Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Virgin O’Riley Plus Who Tribute Charity Concert

For more go to Go Home Productions

Among the songs performed Tuesday night as part of ‘The Music of the Who,’ a two-hour charity tribute concert staged at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, were two versions of the classic ‘My Generation.’ The first was a pleasantly offbeat a cappella blues rendition, complements of Bobby McFerrin. The second, a scorching punk take, ended with special guest Patti Smith ripping the strings from her guitar, urging, “Rise up and create a new f—ing world!”

As if McFerrin and Smith weren’t proof enough of the Who’s wide-ranging appeal, Tuesday’s show also featured power poppers (the Smithereens), Southern rockers (Jason Isbell), funky metalheads (Living Colour) and a Beatles cover band (the Fab Faux). Mose Allison, who Who mastermind Pete Townshend refers to as a “jazz sage” on the ‘Live at Leeds’ album, sang ‘Young Man Blues,’ doctoring the lyrics to reflect his advanced age: “An old man ain’t got nothing in the USA.”

Best of all were upstart New Jersey roots-punk quartet the Gaslight Anthem, who plowed through a loud and sloppy ‘Baba O’Riley,’ and soul survivor Bettye LaVette, who turned in a stark, devastating ‘Love Reign O’er Me.’ Gaslight and LaVatte succeeded in highlighting the two components of Townshend’s genius songwriting: aggression and vulnerability. Many of the night’s other performers did likewise, but not with the same conviction.

Earlier in the show, Norwegian indie-pop dandy Sondre Lerche explored Townsend’s dark sense of humor, huffing his way through an obstinate ‘I’m a Boy,’ a tune about a young buck made to wear dresses. In what amounted to a nifty juxtaposition, guitar virtuoso Kaki King performed next, taking the stage in a mannish fedora, shirt and trousers and changing “boy” to “kid” in the first line of ‘Pinball Wizard.’

Before launching into ‘The Real Me,’ singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson pulled from his pocket a cheat sheet of lyrics, earning groans from the audience. Others, such as ex-Husker Du frontman Bob Mould and New York City poppy punks the Postelles, flew without a net. The latter’s reading of ‘I Can’t Explain’ seemed to as much a tribute to the Who as it was the Clash, who cribbed Townsend’s chord progression for ‘Clash City Rockers.’

The evening’s entire roster closed with a woefully muddled, yet undeniably spirited, ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’ No one quite knew where to stand or what to sing, and as English psychedelic folkie Robyn Hitchcock looked on with bemusement, singer-songwriter Willie Nile tried to rally the overstuffed ensemble, playing air guitar on his crutch.

Nicole Atkins, nothing short of elegant during the version of ‘The Song Is Over’ she’d played early in the show, nailed the Roger Daltrey scream that follows the song’s extended synth break, sending the tune over the cliff, just like Jimmy’s scooter at the end of ‘Quadrophenia.’


March 4, 2010 - Posted by | The Who, Video | , ,

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