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Some good some bad.
on 14 April 2010
I'll be honest I'm a die hard Who fan. There is little Moon era concert material that I wouldn't watch and cherish forever but this collection is a bit of a mixed bag.
The Kilburn show from 1977 is a more poignant performance than anything entertaining. The band are rusty and under rehearsed, the set list is a truncated version of the concerts they played through 1975-6, but after a break of over a year the rot has set in. Whilst Entwistle has slimmed down a little and looks his best ever Moon has bloated up and resembles Robert Newton more than ever. Keith as everyone is aware would be dead within the year and despite many claims to the contrary it's him that lets the side down on this performance.
From Baba O'Rielly onwards Keith breaks the spell, bands thrive on a collective headspace where they are all of one mind. If one person loses concentration the whole thing goes down like a house of cards. When Keith can't keep up when the track speeds up at the end the band start to unravel. Every number after this features howling mistakes. Daltrey forgets the words to Dreaming from the Waist, I'm Free is about a minute shorter thanks to Entwistle going to the end of the song when Townshend is attempting to play the middle "Tommy's Holiday Camp" is risible since no one can remember what key it's in. Only "My Wife" manages to pull the band together into some form of unity. Overall though the performances are spirited but nearly all end up in a car crash. Townshend is visibly and audibly upset at the performance and at one point shouts to Jeff Stein the Director "you might as well send the camera's 'ome!"
It really is a foul tempered gig, the crowd are shouting things at the band which we can't hear on the sound track but are clearly upsetting to the performers. Keith shouts at Pete before "My Generation" - "Play a F***ing number Townshend" and Pete's treatment of a Roadie leaning on his amps during "My Wife" is appalling (you have to see it to believe it).
So Kilburn is worth watching but more as period peice and as Keith's last full concert before his death but overall the effect is one of seeing all your hero's with their pants down.
The "Bonus" disc on the other hand is the legendary show at the London Colisseum in 1969. This is the band at the peak of their powers and is frankly astonishing to watch. This is basically the Live at Leeds set but with Camera's capturing ever stick throw, whirling mic and windmill. For those that worry about such things there is an issue with a lack of camera angles, poor lighting and some missing bits of film but in exchange for this you have probably the best footage of one of the greatest rock bands in the world playing at the top of their powers. This is sadly only a couple of months before the death of Neil Boland (essentially Keith's fault) and the subsequent slide of Moon into alcohol and drug abuse. In this film the band are not only able to summon up magic seemingly at will but they are in between songs hilariously funny. Listen to the banter between Townshend and Moon before they start Tommy and the long preamble to a quick one. Best still the comments about moving into the Colliseum for the week but "all the seats would be covered in chewing gum, and all the little binoculars would be gone".
Watch the Kilburn show once but show your children and anyone who wants to start a rock band the Colisseum it is absolutely required viewing for anyone wanting to know about performance and star quality. Moon is mesmerising in his utterly tireless attack of his kit.
Buy - this DVD for the bonus disc it is essential