While Europe and seemingly the rest of the world were basking in stifling heatwaves, over here we are facing the usual British summers of rain, rain and yet more rain.  Earlier in the day it was literally tanking it down and it didn`t bode well for tonight`s show by the legendary The Who.

Yet despite the ominous clouds threatening overhead, the evening stayed relatively dry although many in the crowd were taking no chances with wellies and rain ponchos everywhere.

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With a two-hour show split into three parts, this was no ordinary performance.  The opening section was built around their gold-plated classic Rock Opera, ‘Tommy’ backed by a full orchestra opening up with ‘Overture’ and closing with ‘We`re Not Going To Take It’ stopping by the ‘Acid Queen’ and the timeless standard ‘Pinball Wizard’ where the band and orchestra combined to startling effect, filling out the sound to cinematic proportions while lead singer Roger Daltrey gave a powerhouse performance. Hit singles ‘Who Are You’ and ‘Eminence Front’ with Pete Townshend on lead vocals, brought the first section to a close.

The Northern Echo: The Who: Seat Unique Riverside. Chester-le-Street. County Durham

The band returned to the stage alone for part two.   This is where The Who truly excelled – a raw, powerful Rock band with an enviable back catalogue of genuine classics to draw from. They hit the spot with pretty much every one of them from the Mod era ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and ‘Substitute’ to the Pop infused ‘You Better, You Bet’ to the harder Rock of ‘My Generation’ which had the whole stadium on their feet and an immense ‘Won`t Get Fooled Again’ where Roger Daltrey`s astonishing voice reached dizzying heights with his climatic scream.  During ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’ drummer Zak Starkey, who excelled all night, drew on his inner Keith Moon and battered his kit to within an inch of its life. The Who were on terrifying form.

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Closing the second set, ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was a ballad of true class performed acoustically along with a violin and cello bringing the second section of the show to a close before the orchestra returned for the final stretch.

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Few bands have managed one concept but The Who have two bona fide classics under their belts in ‘Tommy’ and ‘Quadrophenia’ and it was the latter which was to feature in the final third with the orchestra providing bombastic backing to ‘The Real Me’, ‘5.15’ and a stunning ‘Love, Reign O`er Me’, where Daltrey gave an age-defying performance before ‘Baba O`Riley’ brought the show to a dazzling close.