The Who kicks of its 2019 “Moving On!” tour tonight (May 7th) in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena. The trek will be broken up into two North American legs playing in the spring and fall, with the spring leg wrapping on June 1st at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena. On July 6th, the band will play its only European date at a massive show at London's Wembley Stadium, with support from Eddie Vedder, the Kaiser Chiefs, and Imelda May.
The fall leg begins on September 6th in St. Paul, Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center and closes on October 23rd in Edmonton, Alberta at Rogers Place.
In addition to Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, the Who's 2019 lineup features longtime touring members Zak Starkey on drums and Pete Townshend's younger brother, Simon Townshend on rhythm guitar. Rounding out the band are Who and Daltrey veterans Loren Gold on keyboards and bassist Jon Button. Longtime Who collaborator Billy Nicholls is handling backing vocals.
The Who will be backed by a local orchestra at every stop. Keith Levinson is on board as the music coordinator and conductor with Katie Jacoby and Audrey Q. Snyder serving as violinists and concert masters.
During a recent chat with SiriusXM, Pete Townshend shed light on why a new album of original material was important for him to have in order for the Who to stay an ongoing concern: “When we started to just play the greatest hits and Quadrophenia, it felt to me as though my role in the band had just become, like, I just show up on guitar, I swing my arm around and play a load of songs I wrote when I was 12-and-a-half. So, I really wanted what we did next to include what I do creatively. Y'know, I love performing with the band, I love working with Roger; but I wanted this tour to be one where we had new music in the can. I didn't really necessarily feel that we needed to have an album that we played, I don't care whether it's a hit — I just wanted Roger and I to be making new music together, and that's what we're doing.”
Townshend broke the news that the Who's new album — and first in 13 years — has been pushed until the end of the year: “We just heard, just before we came out that our record label are really, really, really excited about the album, and as a result they're going to delay it (laughter) until Christmas. So, you may hear a few things before then, but the actual album won't come out until the last quarter of this year. So, probably, that will mean it will be released in late-October, early-November.”
During our last chat with Roger Daltrey about the 2019 dates, he explained that a compromise needed to happen between playing new material, deep cuts, and the classic hits. He told us that during the Who's 2006/2007 dates behind Endless Wire, there was a marked difference with crowd reaction between the tried and true standards and the tunes from the new album: “It was alright — but let's face it, it takes off when you get. . . I don't know if I wanna play the hits all the time. I don't wanna play them all the time, but we've got a huge body of work that can be explored of already familiar stuff with people. We couldn't do the whole of (The) Who By Numbers. (I) don't wanna do a whole album. I think it's just, like, a thing that everybody's doing. We wanna do something different.”
Simon Townshend told us that his role in the band is to both shadow and compliment his big brother's parts: “Learning Pete's parts — I'm trying to support him. I'm trying to play the parts that he would play if he was supporting himself, so I have to be aware of that.”