The Who steered their current 50th anniversary tour toward New Orleans Saturday, headlining the Acura Stage and playing a procession of hits, although guitarist-songwriter Pete Townshend was loath to call them that.
“This set we’re touring on is supposedly ‘hits,’ but truth be told we haven’t had that many,” he said. Instead, he suggested the songs that comprised their nearly two-hour show be considered an “academic treatise” for the generations that preceeded their own in the years since the British band’s glory years.
Indeed, Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey hit all phases of the band’s career, from their earliest years banging out three-minute British R&B songs to their rock opera years, which included a lengthy suite from “Tommy” from 1969 and a shorter one from “Quadrophenia” from 1973.
Wearing a black skullcap with two heavy chains around his neck, Townshend jigsawed his legs while playing, banged his guitar and delivered many requisite windmills on his guitar. Daltrey played host to the crowd and, a few times, lassoed the microphone cord up, behind, and around his body. The two lifelong musical partners met at the stage together only a few times, while the enlarged band, including two keyboardists and drummer Zak Starkey, beefed up the band’s catalog to suit the large festival crowd.