28 August 2023 (gig)
29 August 2023
A whole generation of The Who fans descended on Sandringham for a right royal concert, courtesy of Heritage Live.
Bank Holiday Monday was the culmination of the first ever set of concerts staged at the royal residence in Norfolk.
Pop royalty reigned for the whole weekend, with Van Morrison headlining on Friday and Robbie Williams on the Saturday and Sunday, before the legendary The Who took centre stage, providing a proper Bank Holiday Monday beano for their mod faithful.
The Who were preceded by special guests the Lightning Seeds and Richard Ashcroft, both of whom delivered a stellar set to the packed Sandringham crowd.
Ian Broudie and the band didn’t disappoint fans with a set full of hits including Lucky You, Life of Riley, Sugar Coated Iceberg and Pure, before surprising the crowd with an unusually-performed rendition of Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home).
Sandringham was immediately transformed into a football stadium for five minutes as the crowd joined in, delighted to hear the popular football anthem – it must especially have gone down well with the man in the audience who loudly shouted out a request for the tune earlier in the set!
By the time former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft came on stage, the grounds of Sandringham were packed right to the back of the field, in anticipation of the final act.
Richard commanded the stage with his rock star swagger and plenty of attitude, all elevated by a prominent backdrop of retro televisions displaying eye-catching videos.
His voice was as powerful as it ever was, and hits like The Drugs Don’t Work, Bitter Sweet Symphony, Lucky Man and A Song For The Lovers captivated the audience, as well as his new material including Music Is Power, which went down a storm.
After the setting sun, The Who lit up the darkness with a dynamic light show and intro of vibrant orchestral-infused tracks from their hit rock musical Tommy, culminating in The Acid Queen and Pinball Wizard, accompanied by their tour Orchestra.
The Who continued to transport their audience through their huge back catalogue of hits spanning almost 60 years, from their early days in the 60s including I Can’t Explain, The Kids are Alright and My Generation, to more recent tracks such as Eminence Front and You Better You Bet.
Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey’s enduring partnership is as strong as ever, with Roger’s vocals still hitting high notes, especially in his famous scream in Won’t Get Fooled Again and Pete windmilling on his guitar in a flamboyant display just as he always has done, along with great lead vocals. Their much-missed band mates drummer Keith Moon and bass player John Entwistle, aka The Ox, were very much placed at the forefront of the performance during a rendition of Who Are You, when their images played out on the screen, a poignant reminder for everyone in the audience.
Continuing Keith and John’s legacy and giving truly magnificent performances were drummer Zac Starkey, and bass player and vocalist Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother). Particular mention must go to the incredible violinist Katie Jacoby on stage whose performance was spine-tingling.
This dazzling performance wasn’t hampered by a slight technical hitch with Pete’s hearing aid dropping off the Bluetooth connection. Quickly rectifying it and returning to stage, Pete explained to the audience that he and Roger are almost totally deaf without the aids. It’s incredible that both original members are still Getting In Tune despite this debilitating condition that sadly affects many rock musicians.
An orchestral rendition of hits from The Who’s brilliant mod musical Quadrophenia was a real treat, with powerful performances of 5:15, I’m One and The Real Me, with the accompanying videos showing a real blast from the past of 60s mod culture.
Another stand-out song, Behind Blue Eyes, was sung eloquently and movingly by Roger. This hauntingly beautiful ballad from The Who’s 1971 album Who’s Next always goes down a storm with the crowd.
A powerful moment of the set for the audience was the extended piano intro for much-loved Quadrophenia hit song Love, Reign O’er Me. This led into the unmistakable opening of the song, performed in front of a poignant video backdrop of wars and other major events that shaped the world, featuring leaders such as Obama, Margaret Thatcher, Putin and royals including The Queen and Princess Diana.
This thought-provoking video display really brought home the passing of time and futility of life to an emotional crowd.
Of course, no Who set would be complete without the genius song Baba O’Riley, another jewel in The Who’s crown, and the crowning glory of this memorable show which was every inch as majestic as its setting.
*For more details of Heritage Live concerts, visit heritagelive.net
Photo credit: Heritage Live