Townshend’s ‘Quadrophenia’ is a classical rocker at the Greek Theatre – Orange County Register

Nobody smashed a cello. No tympani were blown up.

Make no mistake, though. “Classic Quadrophenia,” complete with orchestra and choir, is a rock show.

It’s a classical-ized version of what Pete Townshend acknowledges to be his most thoroughly satisfying work, The Who’s “Quadrophenia,” which was released as a double-album in 1973 and would become a stage show and a movie. Townshend finished his brief U.S. tour of the show Saturday at the Greek Theatre.

Even with the robed choir and the orchestra complete with oboes and double basses and even a guy playing the triangle, the music thundered like rock music and the rhythms and beats were rocking rhythms and beats.

“Quadrophenia” is the story of Jimmy, a British lower-middle-class adolescent in 1964 London whose life is in crisis. It’s the second of two Townshend-penned rock operas, the previous being “Tommy.”

Some might think “Tommy’s” story the more coherent of the two, making it superior to “Quadrophenia.” But in music, lyrics, recording and performance, “Quadrophenia” shines brighter.

“Quadrophenia,” too, might connect better with its audience. Jimmy feels awkward and that he really doesn’t fit in. It’s the same desperate loneliness just about every teen goes through.

The Who, for whom Townshend has been guitarist, part-time lead vocalist, chief songwriter and unquestioned leader, has performed “Quadrophenia” in its entirety on a couple of tours, with a most-recent rendering at Honda Center in 2013. This is its first go-around without Who lead singer Roger Daltrey and with a full-on orchestra playing arrangements created by Townshend’s classically trained partner Rachel Fuller.

Saturday’s “Quadrophenia” looked like a classical music performance – a large orchestra arranged in a traditional U-shape with conductor Robert Ziegler on a…

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