Pete Townshend: The Who Set to Perform a “Quieter” Tommy


Pete Townshend: The Who Set to Perform a “Quieter” Tommy

–Joe Lund

Pete Townshend’s enthusiasm for live performances has waned over the years, but these days the 71-year-old guitarist is feeling invigorated. Speaking with Rolling Stone, the Who mastermind says he’s looking forward to staging the rock opera Tommy—in its entirety—for the first time in more than a quarter century. The Who will present the opus at London’s Royal Albert Hall on March 30 and April 1, as part of a benefit gala for Teenage Cancer Trust.

“Roger [Daltrey] wanted the Who to do two nights there, which I agreed to and then I suggested we need to do something a little bit different,” said Townshend. “I was worried about how loud it is in the Royal Albert Hall when we do a standard rock show. It’s terrifying. I usually feel like I’m blowing out the last little range of what’s left of my hearing when we play there. So I said, ‘Can we do something a little quieter?’ He suggested we look at Tommy, and I thought about it. So we’re gonna do it, but we’re gonna do it in a new way. It will be quieter. Whether it will be unplugged, as it were, is another story. There’s certainly part of it that will work very well that way, but we need to play it through and see how it lands.”

Asked if the Who had plans to bring the presentation to the U.S., Townshend hedged. “I don’t think so,” he said. “Certainly not soon.” He did, however, indicated that the Who’s future feels brighter to him than it has in several years. “I feel that Roger and I probably can work together and make music together in the future, maybe even do new recordings …,” he said. “We don’t particularly want to go and do heavy touring again but the future is looking good. It feels good to me. It feels optimistic and hopeful, and I feel better … than I have for a long time, with respect to the Who.”