Label: Eagle Vision
Time: 146 min
This live gig was supposed to be it for the band as an effective creative unit. Pete Townshend wanted to concentrate on his solo work after this appearance. In fact, The Who didn’t appear again as a live band until 1989. At this time, though, there was a sense of the ‘farewells’ about it. This show was also supposed to be about pushing the studio album, It’s Hard (the band’s last for 24 years) but this show spends most of its time looking backwards to past glories instead.
This concert appeared in New York on 12 and 13 October, towards the end of the first leg of their tour (with the Clash in support, would you believe: they were favourites of Townshend). This DVD features the second night’s performance plus five bonus tracks and offers good quality footage and sound.
The early 80s were not particularly kind to the band in terms of fashion with Daltrey’s silver suit glowing like a corncob in the light and Townshend featuring a sad, Joe Strummer-like haircut and a swathe of nasty sounding 80s synthesiser that’s first heard on the John Entwistle-penned Dangerous. I know it’s relatively shallow point but it says a lot about the group’s rather ‘lost’ look at this time in their career.
Musically, in general and relative terms, the band are on comparatively good form, only four years after the death of Keith Moon. The group are still full of energy and dynamism: Daltry is fidgety, pacing, throwing his microphone like a helicopter rotor blade; Townshend windmills his guitar arm, leaps, bounds and looks suitably pissed off, Entwhistle does his best ‘standing there’ thing while Kenney Jones works his socks off. Although I never really think he was ever fully appreciated as a drummer by the rest of the band, especially Townshend. I always got the impression that Jones spent most of his time concerned that he wasn’t doing enough, hitting the drums hard enough, working hard enough…not being Keith Moon, basically.
The concert takes a while to get it together. The band members take time to click, Townshend’s voice takes a while to warm up…maybe that ‘this is the end’ vibe had put a downer on proceedings amongst the group members before the start. Yet, by the time we get to songs like I’m One, Drowned and, the early song, Tattoo (the words prove a bit of a trial to remember, though), The Who have forgotten all of that rubbish and are back on spanking form. Amazingly, Pete actually smiles at this point. No, really.
This is an important point in the band’s career and this video, the first time the entire concert has appeared on DVD, documents it well. An essential purchase for any Who fan.