Sheffield show reasserts The Who as rock 'n' roll royalty

Roger Daltrey & Pete Townshend turned back time to rock Sheffield last night.
Roger Daltrey & Pete Townshend turned back time to rock Sheffield last night.

Last night's South Yorkshire "Tommy and more" Arena concert confirmed age has not dimmed, only further illuminated, dynamic duo Daltrey and Townshend's talents.

You better (you bet) believe it, harmonica-toting frontman Roger and axe-wielding singer-songwriter supreme Pete still displaying enduring exhilarating stage craft that propelled The Who toward rock gods greatness more than half a century ago.

This reviewer recalls 42 years past being blown away by enigmatic energy of four-piece that then featured late, lamented bassist John "The Ox" Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon "The Loon", revisited 11 years ago at Live at Leeds second coming, celebrating the influential band's ground-breaking live album after a musical hall of fame blue plaque presentation.

We won't get fooled again, yet drooled again at the chance to tap once more into the eclectic electricity that is live set from high octane act, once rejoicing in title The High Numbers, whose drive has not been diminished by decades of global touring.

The line-up oft changed - currently featuring baby brother Simon Townshend on guitar, mandolin and backing vocals; bass player Jon Button; Ringo's son Zak Starkey on skins; Loren Gold and John Corey on keyboards and backing vocals; musical director cum backing vocalist Frank Simes on keyboards, banjo, harmonica, mouth harp, claves and suitably squeezebox - yet tunes remain timeless classics, unravaged by time.

Originally scheduled for last September, the rejigged gig witnessed chart-toppers aplenty from barn-storming opener I Can't Explain, the group's 1964 debut single penned by teen lyricist Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend to '78 crowd-pleaser Who Are You? from eponymous album.

Who's Next LP opener Baba O'Riley similarly passed test of time with flying colours, amid mesmeric light show, while lesser known back catalogue numbers such as Bargain from same '71 album were revisited and reworked.

The sublime set sampled selection from concept success Quadrophenia and newly focused acoustic Tommy format, drawn from recent Royal Albert Hall charity shows with video programme specially produced for the Steel City performance, all of which all but brought 13,500 capacity house down.

The set echoed historic - not to say hazy, crazy - days surrounding landmark album Live At Leeds and influential festival Woodstock, when the celebrated rock opera was ever central to their shows.

Fast forward from 1970 to today and guitarist Townshend's well-oiled windmills still whirl to confirm the live and kicking combo continues to sing in celebration, still talking about their generation ... not degeneration.