From page 84 of Classic Rock Magazine May 2000
Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, 26.2.00 Set-length: Two hours, 45 minutes Tickets: £25
Set-list: In C'/'One Note/Purcell One Note (Quick Movement)'/'Teenage Wasteland'/'Time Is Passing'/'Love Ain't For Keeping/Going Mobile/Greyhound Girl'/'Tragedy'/'Mary'/'l Don't Know Myself'/'Bargain'/'Pure And Easy'/Baba O'Riley (Orchestral)'/Intermission/'Hinterland Rag'/'Baba O'Riley'/'Behind Blue Eyes'/'Let's See Action/Sister Disco'/'Getting In Tune'/'Relay'/'Who Are You/Join Together/Won't Get Fooled Again/Tragedy Explained/Song Is Over/Tan You Help The One You Really Love?'
Pete Townshend has never made a secret of his fallibility, not least his unwillingness to 'die before I get old'. He's also shown a very human inability to stop scratching an itch, and this second of two London concerts promotes the release of his lifehouse' project as a six-CD set, fully three decades after its inception. He's never quite been able to leave it alone.
lifehouse' eventually became 'Who's Next' a compromise, in Townshend's eyes so the songs are familiar in a rather more rocky form than he's presenting them here. The same vocal trio the Who used on the 'Quadrophenia' tour help him hit the high notes, while former Free keyboardist 'Rabbit' Bundrick heads a drummerless rock ensemble; a substantial string section adding the final orchestral flourish to proceedings.
The support act set the scene as we entered the auditorium the Piano Orchestra playing the chopsticks-like 'In C'. It's a familiar refrain which turns out to be Townshend's tip of the hat to his inspiration, Terry Riley, the 60s creator of electronic music who not only composed it but lent his name to 'Baba O'Riley'. Indeed, that song's synth motif crops up (almost too) many times in the evening, in orchestrated form and otherwise. The presence of songs like 'Who Are You' and 'Sister Disco' in the set suggest an ongoing lifehouse' thread running through the Who's 70s work that few suspected though Pete's insistent he's not trying to tell a story tonight, just play some music.
It's ironic, given lifehouse"s plot of breaking away from a dehumanising, all-controlling 'Grid', that the concerts have been funded by an intemet firm who'll be webcasting the results in April or May. But you can bet the aborted first attempts at 'Baba O'Riley' and 'Won't Get Fooled Again' will end up on the virtual cutting-room floor. Shame, really, because they prove that, though he's played these songs thousands of times, Townshend is just as much the fallible, flesh-and-blood character he's always been. The swell of emotion, cheers and rhythmic clapping that buoyed him after he commanded "Run the tape again" clearly moved him.
No acoustic guitar-smashing, but the cheers that greeted the first 'windmill' suggested some of the audience regarded the exercise as simply the next best thing to a Who concert. (Though spied on the premises, Who bassist John Entwistle was not on stage.) On the other hand, perhaps we should just be pleased that Townshend, at 54, is still playing his music to the masses. But great songs outlive their authors, and these rock classics will outlive the Who no amount of revisionism changes that. Michael Heatley