Pete Townshend

Live: La Jolla, 22/06/01

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The first of two fundraising concerts that Townshend played at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse, and an enchantingly intimate look at the veteran Who man as he chats, jokes, and, of course, plays through a solid set of acoustified classics. The venue itself has some fond attachments to Townshend -- it was here that he premiered the Tommy musical before launching it on Broadway and, hardly surprisingly, the deaf, dumb and blind kid opens the show via a rousing "Pinball Wizard." From there, Townshend swoops into an affecting "Let My Love Open the Door," setting the pace for the remainder of the show. Dividing the two CDs more or less equally between Who and solo material, he strums through a stark "Drowned," a playful "Tattoo," and a surprisingly effective "Eminence Front," a sleek "Greyhound Girl," and an astonishing version of the old blues dirge "St James Infirmary." The climax of the performance, however, is the inevitable "Won't Get Fooled Again," a song whose message seems to reverberate ever more accusingly with every passing year -- and Townshend knows it. "Behind Blue Eyes" seemingly marks the end of the show, but then he reappears, armed with an electric guitar, and reprises "Won't Get Fooled Again" once more. Just to make sure everyone got the message.

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