The Who debuted at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Monday, July 29, 2002. This stadium concert was their first stadium venue appearance since their 1989 tour. Legions of Who fans have been very supportive of the surviving duo in response to the unexpected passing of founder bassist John Entwistle.

     The Who were on top of their game with Pete Townshend's power chords during "I Can't Explain". Their opening salvo was met with resounding applause. Townshend's characteristically facetious greeting was, "Fuck off ... all of you!", to the Hershey Stadium crowd, which was just hilarious. Roger Daltrey sounded fantastic on "Substitute", and the bass volume was cranked.

     Commenting on the family atmosphere and beauty of his surroundings, Townshend then added, "We're just gonna come and fuck it all up .... It's o.k. for me to masturbate". And with that graphic Townshend retort, The Who proceeded to deliver a terrific rendition of "Who Are You" with both Daltrey and Simon Townshend playing acoustic guitars. Townshend slashed away on his guitar, combining windmills and solos in an intense stage jam.

     "We keep praying, but he doesn't come back", was how Pete expressed his heartfelt sincerity over the loss of his friend. Townshend became animated for "Another Tricky Day". Pino Palladino's bass work was exceptional. Immediately following, the band grooved on "Relay". John Bundrick's organ laid a fantastic foundation with vocal harmonizing by the Who duo.

     Halfway through the concert, The Who performed a trilogy of songs from 1973's opus, Quadrophenia. Daltrey and Townshend sang lead harmony vocals together on "Sea And Sand". The winning combination of the new Starkey-Palladino rhythm section was evident. Lasers stationed in the parking lot relentlessly searched the Hershey skyline during "5:15" as the band proved it still has what it takes to rock on stage.

     A large WHO in multi-colored lights with their arrow symbol lit up brilliantly for "Love Reign O'er Me". Bundrick's piano intro was stunning, aided by synthesized orchestral touches. Zak Starkey's drums punched up the song as Palladino's bass bounced across the bridge. Daltrey climaxed his vocals with a tender finish rather than the voluminous scream on the recording.

     Townshend's lead vocals and performance during his Who composition, "Eminence Front", was a capital highlight at Hersheypark. Townshend's lead guitar intro was supported by Daltrey playing rhythm on an electric guitar. "You Better, You Bet" featured Daltrey and Townshend sharing harmony vocals together. Starkey's drumming resonated in this strong stage version with Townshend tearing off a hot guitar solo.

     "My Generation" rocked for the ages. Starkey was white hot on the drums, Palladino's bass solo was tremendous (considering it is John's signature bass line), and Daltrey nailed his vocal. Townshend, for his part, fired off a choppy guitar solo that included windmills, a mellow interlude accompanied by audience clapping, and a furious finish in an extended jam.

     "We're pretending to be The Who this week", was another ad lib quip by Townshend during group introductions. He was particularly humorous when announcing Zak Starkey on drums. Who bandmates Pete and Roger soaked up the endless cheers shortly before a montage of photographs in memory of John Entwistle was presented.

     The Hersheypark encore was a mini-suite of material from their 1969 masterwork, Tommy. "Pinball Wizard", "Amazing Journey/Sparks", and "See Me, Feel Me" were a performance peak. Daltrey pounded tambourines and swung his microphone, Palladino elevated his bass playing to the foreground, and Townshend leapt about the stage assaulting his guitar with rhythmic slashes and dramatic windmills. The Who's finale built in volume and tempo, closing on a powerful crescendo.

     Zak Starkey sat behind the skins again on his fifth U.S. tour, supporting The Who. Keyboardist John 'Rabbit' Bundrick has been performing with The Who for two decades. Younger brother, Simon Townshend, has joined The Who as second guitarist and backing vocalist for their US 2002 tour. He previously supported The Who during their 1996 and 1997 international Quadrophenia tours.

     Pino Palladino was recruited to play bass guitar over a weekend's notice to fill the vacant bass position. It's a tough job, but he has been doing his best to complement the band on stage with his style of playing. Remarkably, tickets from sections all over the stadium were circulating outside around the grounds of the venue with few if any takers. It was a buyers market with scalpers taking a well deserved heavy bath.

     The recent loss of original bassist and founding partner, John Entwistle, was a major blow to Daltrey and Townshend on both a personal and professional level. However, The Who have been packing in the crowds and jamming with a newfound resiliency in the aftermath of The Ox's untimely departure. The Who had planned to record their first studio album together in 20 years this Fall, but those plans remain in limbo.

Hershey setlist: I Can't Explain * Substitute * Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere * Who Are You * Another Tricky Day * Relay * Bargain * Baba O'Riley * Sea And Sand * 5:15 * Love Reign O'er Me * Eminence Front * Behind Blue Eyes * You Better, You Bet * The Kids Are Alright * My Generation * Won't Get Fooled Again * Encore: Pinball Wizard * Amazing Journey * Sparks * See Me, Feel Me/Listening To You

RockonTour   Issue #12
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2002 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

The Who rock anew
Who duo knocks Hershey in the bullox

by Timothy Tilghman