The Who are back on the road for the start of their 29-date North American tour. The spring run kicks off tonight (April 22nd) at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida's Hard Rock Live and wraps on May 28th at Bethel, New York's Bethel Woods Center of the Arts — which sits on the site of the band's legendary 1969 Woodstock appearance.
In addition to Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and the local orchestra backing them at every gig, the Who's 2022 lineup features longtime touring members Zak Starkey on drums and Pete Townshend's younger brother, Simon Townshend on rhythm guitar. Rounding out the band are Who and Daltrey veterans Loren Gold on keyboards and bassist Jon Button. Also returning is longtime Who associate and background vocalist Billy Nicholls, orchestra conductor Keith Levenson, lead violinist Katie Jacoby, and lead cellist Audrey Snyder. Joining the group this time out will be additional keyboardist Emily Marshall.
The band has just announced its special guests various cities, which include opening sets by Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, Leslie Mendelson, Los Lonely Boys, Amythyst Kiah, the Wild Things, Willie Nile, and Steven Page.
The band will be tackling several tunes from their most recent album, 2019's WHO. Roger Daltrey explained to us that he made a concerted effort to make the new Townshend songs his own: “It's been important for Pete, because he just doesn't want to be seen as someone who's just going out peddling what he did 50 years ago. He's still current. And the stuff he's writing now, the new stuff will prove that. I thought, 'Well, this is great Pete Townshend stuff, but it's a Pete Townshend solo album.' But then I listened and found a way to get into it, and climb into it with my voice and who I am, and it's good. I'm not just blowing our trumpet — it's good stuff.”
Pete Townshend told us that for the time being, he sees the Who remaining an ongoing concern: “Looking ahead, I'm not sure. . . I mean, Roger has said, y'know, he doesn't know how much longer he can sing the way that he's singing, but he's singing incredibly well — and has been for the last five, six years — I mean, better than ever, I think. But, he has said he doesn't know how long he can go on doing that. But at the moment, I'm not saying that this is the end of anything. We all have brands now, which you can take into Vegas, if you want to. It's so strange to have that brand that is bigger than either of us.”
Guitarist Simon Townshend told us that his role in the Who is to both shadow and compliment his big brother's parts: “Learning Pete's parts — I'm trying to support him. I'm trying to play the parts that he would play if he was supporting himself, so I have to be aware of that.”
Part of the reason for Pete Townshend's eagerness to play out with the Who over the past 20 years is his connection with drummer Zak Starkey: “He studied at the feet of Keith Moon. He was eight-years-old when I first met him, his dad is Ringo Starr, but Keith Moon bought him his first drum kit. He was a big Who fan as a kid. So when John (Entwistle) passed away, suddenly there was Zak and I — and then what I realized is that he and I have this extraordinary chemistry. And it's innate. It's a chemistry that's based on the fact that whatever I do, he's already doing it.”