Judge Ryan Keefer drove a matchbox car into the sink. Does that make him a rock star?
One of rock's great groups in one of their final performances.
Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, Keith Moon and John Entwhistle's collaborations as The Who were at a time when rock music was flourishing unlike any other period. They were around when the British invasion of groups like the Beatles and Rolling Stones hit America in the '60s, were putting out albums next to Led Zeppelin in the '70s, and as '70s rock transitioned into punk, and acts like Generation X were taking potshots at some of the older acts, the band kept a stiff upper lip ("They Are All in Love" from The Who By Numbers being a good case in point). Throughout it all, Daltrey's powerful vocals, Townsend's prolific lyrics and composition, Moon's drumming, barely on the edge of control, and Entwhistle's economy of movement providing for a stable rhythm section, the band soldiered on through thick and thin. Jeff Stein, who was filming the band for the production which later became The Kids Are Alright, was filming them in December 15, 1977 at London's State Kilburn theatre for what would be the last filmed appearance of Moon behind his massive drum set before his death from accidentally overdosing nine months later. We know a couple of the songs that appear in the film, but the set itself from the Kilburn performance is as follows:
• "Can't Explain"
From a performance perspective, to see the band in this way is a little poignant, and something that Stein managed to capture in greater context with Kids, but they seemed to find happiness on the stage, especially after years of internal strife (and Moon's public acting out, including passing out during a concert). But it was a controlled enjoyment, they were the old pros and didn't seem to be doing it with the type of enthusiasm that a 1973 Who concert might bring, save for Townsend and Moon's activity. But to hear this lineup of songs, including Moon's Uncle Ernie interpretation, and Entwhistle singing on "My Wife," showed the group playing around and experimenting with songs that fans might not have seen before in tours. Watching them makes me sad, knowing what transpired in the months following this performance.
A quick post-script on the band if I may; in a way, to see Daltrey and Townsend performing without Moon and Entwhistle (who died of a cocaine-induced heart attack in 2002) going on with concerts feels incomplete and not at all proper. Daltrey did say he hoped he'd die before he got old, and Moon certainly lived up to those words, but to paraphrase an equal of their eras, wouldn't it have been better for The Who to burn out before they faded away?
On Blu-ray, the 1.78:1 widescreen presentation looks decent, considering the source material. Grain is present throughout and the encode helps bring the boys into high definition, which extends their shelf life. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track is decent enough with Entwhistle's bass and Townsend's guitar in the front left and right channels, Daltrey's vocals in the center, Moon's drumming complementing all three.
There is additional performance footage of the band, and it's a bit of a treat, presented from a 1969 performance at the London Coliseum, shortly after the band's landmark album/rock opera Tommy, which they would play in its entirety. The footage itself isn't in the best of shape, understandably so, but the songs are excellent here as well. They include the following songs:
• "Heaven and Hell"
But wait, there's more! There are also performances of "Tommy" and "A Quick One While He's Away" in 1.78:1 widescreen and DTS-HD Master Audio.
The Who At Kilburn quietly snuck onto my radar for review purposes; I had no idea that a video was coming, and I'm a light to medium fan of the band. In this release, you've got a long-desired concert, captured in its entirely, with lot of additional footage that makes it a worthwhile purchase. The video and audio are decent on Blu-ray also, so fans of rock music in general should at the very least give this one a spin, and fans of the band should absolutely grab this.
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