The Who are marking their 50th anniversary with a tour billed as “the beginning of the long goodbye” – but don’t go filming Roger Daltrey on your mobile phone
By Anita Singh, Arts and Entertainment Editor
The Who are embarking on a farewell tour, but woe betide any fan who takes a mobile phone along to film the moment for posterity.
Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend have decided, at 70 and 69 respectively, that they they are getting too old for life on the road.
Fifty years after the band formed, and with two members lost, The Who are to play a final series of concerts that Daltrey described as “the beginning of the long goodbye”.
Where once gig-goers were content to wave cigarette lighters aloft or throw plastic glasses of questionable fluids over the crowd, it is now de rigeur to hold a mobile phone in the air and take photographs or video.
The trend infuriates Daltrey. “I feel sorry for them. I really feel sorry for them. Living a life through a screen, not being in the moment totally? I find it weird. They’re all mad,” he said, adding that he refused to own an iPhone.
However, Townshend, who described himself as a technophile, is more forgiving.
“I’m for it, really,” he said, likening it to free publicity. “All of these people you could say are doing a job by taking that footage and sharing it. We used to have to pay people to produce that stuff for us.”
Daltrey and Townshend announced details of the ‘Who Hits Fifty’ anniversary tour with an acoustic performance at Ronnie Scott’s club in London.
“Just adjusting the hearing aids,” Daltrey said as they warmed up at the beginning of the set. When laughter rippled through the audience, he added: “I’m not joking, you know.” Townshend wears two hearing aids, the result of a lifetime listening to loud music.
Asked if this really is the last tour, Daltrey said: “It just has to be, really. We can’t go on touring forever. As a singer, I don’t know how long my voice will last. It will go.
“And it’s the grind of the road – it’s incredibly tough on the body at this age.”
Townshend joked that the pair could no longer handle “the prostitutes, the heroin, the cocaine”.
The Who formed in 1964 and have since sold over 100 million records, with Daltrey and Townshend carrying on after the deaths of Keith Moon in 1978 and John Enwistle in 2002.
Daltrey, who once sang “I hope I die before I get old” said he was lucky that work remained a pleasure.
“If I was a painter and decorator I would have to go out to work at my age because I couldn’t survive on a pension,” he said.
The nine UK gigs in November and December will likely be followed by further dates in the US. Said Daltrey: “We obviously want to do America to say goodbye and thank them for supporting us all those years.”
Neither man is attending David Cameron’s ‘Cool Britannia’ party at Downing Street, and Townshend said musicians cosying up to the government never ends well.
He recalled: “The last political thing I was invited to was in the days of New Labour. My advice to them was, don’t let f—— Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher in, because as soon as they get their tax bill they will drop you like a stone. And they did.”
Tickets for the tour go on sale this Friday. The Who tickets will be available via Telegraph Tickets
The Who Hits 50 tour dates
Nov 30 – Glasgow SSE Hydro
Dec 2 – Leeds First Direct Arena
Dec 5 Nottingham Capital FM Arena
Dec 7 Birmingham NIA
Dec 9 Newcastle Metro
Dec 11 Liverpool Echo Arena
Dec 13 Manchester Phones4U Arena
Dec 15 Cardiff Motorpoint
Dec 17 London The O2