The Who has seen all this before. Not at Glastonbury, however: they've surprisingly never played. But they were there at the mother of all rock festivals: Woodstock. Their 3 am show to rain-lashed hippies on a dairy farm in up-state New York 38 years ago was a defining moment in the band's career. But tonight Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and replacement rhythm section of Zak Starkey on drums and Pino Palladino on bass take this incredibly large crowd back to their mod beginnings and relive their triumphant career highs.
Backdrop screens show scenes from their movie Quadrophenia cut in with footage of sharp-dressed Mods (the early 1960s youth movement that the band sprang from) as The Who powers through their anthems from the time, "I Can't Explain" and "My Generation." The likes of "Pinball Wizard" and "See Me, Feel Me" from "Tommy" are given the maximum R&B treatment and Townshend dedicates their 1978 hit "Who Are You?" to the person with the "Who Are We?" banner. But when the band plays "Won't Get Fooled Again," it seems like these three days have actually just been an elaborately planned support act. It's easy to be cynical about the value of nostalgia the band plays some fine new material here, too but you haven't heard "Baba O'Reilly" until you've heard it in the mud and pouring rain with at least another 100,000 people. Same time, next year, then?