Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Who - Live in Hyde Park

“I’ve looked at early photos. You can look at the clothes, you can look at all those things, but it’s more to do with the eyes. There’s an attitude there. We still maintain that today.” –Roger Daltrey
On June 26th 2015, The Who took the stage in London’s Hyde Park in front of a 50,000-strong crowd as part of their 50th anniversary tour, The Who Hits 50. Despite only 2 original members remaining (bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon shuffled off this mortal coil in 2002 and 1978 respectively), vocalist Roger Daltrey says “I really do feel we are on top of our game now. This is a good as it’s ever been”. He’s right. 

Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray in a variety of editions issued with CDs and LPs, The Who – Live in Hyde Park is an absolutely stunning show to behold. Shot in a cinematic 16:9 aspect ratio, this is more than just a filmed concert. This is a concert film. As the band perform a long set-list of some of their best ever songs, the sun sets over Hyde Park in such a way that could arguably reflect The Who themselves. As they get ready to start the next leg of their Hits 50 tour in the new year, The Who’s ‘long goodbye’ continues but the end is in sight. In the past year, Daltrey has had to cancel multiple dates due to his failing voice. But at 71 years old, it’s incredible that he’s able to do the amount of shows he is. Guitarist and writer Pete Townshend, at 70, still plays like a God but doesn’t throw himself around the stage and leap into the air as he pounds out some noise with his famous windmill move. It sure is inspiring and even moving to see these men still performing with such passion and mod angst, but you can’t help but think that one of these days you’ll switch on the news and see ‘Iconic rock band The Who announce end to performing’. 

But until that day, we can continue to enjoy one of the greatest live bands in music. Yes, Entwistle and Moon’s presence is missed. There’s no getting around that. But Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr and godson of Keith Moon, is a formidable drummer. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing two of The Who’s Hits 50 dates including their phenomenal Royal Albert Hall performance, and I couldn’t help but smile when I overheard an old cockney chap leaving the venue say to his friend “if those drums had been any louder, you’d think it was Moonie playing!”. As for the bass, Pino Palladino fills Entwistle’s shoes with respect and faithfulness, particularly in the iconic My Generation. The whole band is on fire here, but nobody more than Daltrey and Townshend themselves. Daltrey’s voice drops in quality a little occasionally but at his age, it’s a miracle he’s still willing to sing for us. And for the majority of the time, he’s incredible. Singing powerful numbers like Love Reign O’er Me, Won’t Get Fooled Again and Bargain, you can close your eyes and see the Roger Daltrey from the 1960s and 1970s. There’s something sweet about hearing him roar out “I hope I die before I get old” during My Generation now.

Live at Hyde Park is a fantastic performance, and likely to be the last fully recorded concert of The Who. Sat next to their Live at Kilburn and Live at the Isle of Wight recorded shows, it’s a piece we’re lucky to have forever safe for years to come. It brings me joy to know that in many years time, when we’ve all passed on and our children’s children are learning about music history, they can watch a show like this. There’s more to this film than just the music. Between some songs, we’re shown short interviews with Daltrey & Townshend, aswell as Iggy Pop and Paul Weller, briefly discussing the power of the music. Thankfully, this is never intrusive – some concert films insist on putting this over the music. Not here. Visually and sonically, Live at Hyde Park is breath-taking. The 16:9 aesthetic is beautiful, and the sound mix is phenomenal. Played through surround sound speakers on Blu-Ray, prepare to have eargasms as The Who flawlessly perform some of their best songs in your living room.

In conclusion, Live at Hyde Park is one of the finest concert films available and a perfect souvenir for the Hits 50 tour. If you get a chance to see them before it’s too late, GO. It’ll be one of the best nights of your life. Over the end credits of this film, we see Iggy Pop perform an acoustic version of My Generation. As he finishes this gentle and touching tribute, he softly says “Hail The Who.” Indeed.

The Who – Live at Hyde Park is a beautifully shot film of one of music’s greatest bands on top of their game. Long live rock. 5/5.

Set listI Can’t Explain/Who Are You/The Kids Are Alright/Pictures of Lily/I Can See For Miles/My Generation/Behind Blue Eyes/Bargain/Join Together/You Better You Bet/I’m One/Love Reign O’er Me/Eminence Front/Amazing Journey/Overture/Sparks/Pinball Wizard/See Me, Feel Me/Listening To You/Baba O’Riley/Won’t Get Fooled Again


Sam Love

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