Pete Townshend explained that the Who's current tour is a meeting in the middle for him and Roger Daltrey. Townshend wanted to have new Who music in can so that he wouldn't feel as though he was touring as part of an oldies revue — and Daltrey was pushing for an orchestral backing every night. By allowing one another to get what they needed creatively, the Who remains alive and well in 2019.
Townshend explained to IndyStar.com, “I took a one-year sabbatical from October 2017 to October 2018. . . I was starting to think about trying to write some songs that would suit Roger. As I began to write, I started to feel that something quite strange was happening. The prospect of touring with Roger — subject to having new songs by the Who in development — made me feel there could be more distance for us to travel. We have been relying on our old stuff for so long now that touring for me was starting to feel rather Groundhog Day.”
He went on to say, “I made a real gamble and set aside the summer to write at least 12 songs for a prospective Who album, each song directly aimed at what I thought would most engage Roger and I didn’t want to tour again without the promise of new music from the Who, and Roger was only willing to tour if we did something brave and audacious — like work with an orchestra as he had done last year with Tommy. We each had our reservations. We agreed to each reserve our judgment and jumped into the breach. He committed to the songs, I committed to the orchestra. It’s a blast! An awkward compromise has led to one of the most interesting and challenging times in Who history.”
The Who's show features two sets performed along with orchestra — with a middle set played minus the horns and strings. During the band's May 16th gig in Nashville, Pete Townshend took a pretty nasty fall backwards during “Join Together” — but luckily rebounded within seconds.
Although Townshend's gravity-defying leaps are now a thing of the past for the 74-year-old, the Who's concerts still includes plenty of Townshend's signature “windmilling”: “I still do that, yeah. Y'know, the reason that I do it is (laughs) not 'cause it has any function anymore. But whenever I do it, it's a cheap shot. I just go like that and the crowd go mad. So it's kind of lucky; if it's getting a bit quiet, I just swing my arm. If Roger needs a bit of help (laughter), I swing my arm.”