DULUTH — It’s not often that legendary bands tour through to the Arena at Gwinnett Center to play a rock opera from start to finish.
Thanks to The Who, that has changed. The iconic British rock group performed its famous album “Quadrophenia” Monday night in front of thousands of fans, who traveled from around the metro area — and farther — for the show.
Mike Shelay of Chattanooga, Tenn. drove to Duluth to meet up with some old friends to reminisce about their days in college.
“The Who was back in the ’70s and part of what we did,” he said. “We’d meet up, have some beer and listen to The Who, then go to class to study English Literature.”
Shelay has been a lifetime fan. This was his forth time watching the band live over a 40 year span.
“I’ve never seen Keith Moon though,” he said. “That was before my time.”
The audience ranged from children holding their parents hands to men and women who already have grandchildren.
David Smith of Marietta was one of those parents. He brought his son Liam to the concert.
“This is his second concert,” Smith said of his 10-year-old son. “His first one was Roger Waters because he’s a big Pink Floyd fan.”
Liam Smith agreed.
“(I’m) not too much (of a fan). I came because they’re probably not going to come back.”
The Who hasn’t played at the Arena at Gwinnett Center since 2006. Now six years later, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are keeping the music alive for several generations.
Throughout the concert, there were flashbacks to The Who’s younger days, acting like rebels in a relatively snooty British era of manners and civility. The images also followed the story of “Quadrophenia,” which is about a boy named Jimmy, who struggles to establish his own identity.
“I thought the images were really cool,” said Devon Stephens of Doraville. “It didn’t all make sense, but it was fun to watch when the guys were doing their own thing.”
During this tour, Townshend’s younger brother Simon took to the guitar and Ringo Starr’s son Zak Starkey held down the drums.
“I think (Starkey’s) a pro because he’s played with Oasis and The Who,” Smith said. “I think he’s paid his due before he started playing with The Who 15 years ago. I have a lot of respect for him.”