By Brian Ives
They went on their first farewell tour in 1982, but they’ve played over 400 gigs and released a new album in the decades since, so it has indeed been a “long goodbye” for the Who. And now, on the eve of their 50th anniversary as a band, it looks like Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are planning what really (really!) will be their last tour (but perhaps not their final performances).
A press release that came out earlier today (June 30) announced “The Who Hits 50!” British/Irish tour, which kicks off Nov. 26 at the O2 in Dublin, Ireland. The tour, according to the release, “will see the band take their audience on an ‘Amazing Journey’ through their entire career from the days of the High Numbers to classic albums such as Who’s Next, Tommy, Quadrophenia, My Generation, Live at Leeds up to the present day.”
The High Numbers were one of the band’s early names: they released the mod-era single “Zoot Suit” (written by their original manager, Peter Meaden) with the B-side “I’m the Face” (adapted by Pete Townshend from the Slim Harpo song “I Got Love If You Want It).” They also recorded a cover of the early Motown song “Leaving Here” as the High Numbers.
Townshend took some poetic license with the press release. “Trying to stay young,” he said. “Not wearing socks. Growing a great big woodcutter’s beard. Might even wear a check shirt on stage and get a tattoo of a Union Jack. Always a fashion victim. But under no illusions. We are what we are, and extremely good at it, but we’re lucky to be alive and still touring. If I had enough hairs to split I would say that for thirteen years since 1964 The Who didn’t really exist, so we are really only thirty-seven.”
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Daltrey added, “This is the beginning of the long goodbye.”
Last year, the legendary vocalist told us about the 2015 tour, but that they’d still consider performing beyond that: “We’ll still do events, and we will find new ways to perform, whether it’s sitting down in smaller venues for a week, so we don’t have to do the schlepping. It’s the schlepping that’s killing us.”
At a press conference earlier today, Townshend and Daltrey addressed the prospect of new music. “I gave Roger three demos of three rough songs and happily he likes them,” Townshend said, according to Rolling Stone. “I really liked the pub rock sound of the album [Daltrey] did with Wilko [Johnson] [on their collaborative album, Going Back Home, released earlier this year] and we may try to make the record in a slightly more basic way than we normally work, although a lot of my writing these days is pretty complicated. It’s more prog rock than pub rock!”
Datlrey spoke about the album last year, saying that they hadn’t decided on what other musicians they’d use, but that it would have the spirit of the original band. “We’ll always have Pino [Palladino] on bass, I’m sure, and if the music is suitable for Zak [Starkey] on the drums, then great. I don’t know. The Who is Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. And the echoes of John [Entwistle] and Keith [Moon] will always reverberate whenever we play. I can’t tell you who we’ll use if we make a new album, until I hear the music.”
Currently, the only scheduled tour dates are in the United Kingdom and in Ireland, running through Dec. 17 in London.