The Who, ‘Live in Hyde Park': DVD Review
For more 50 years, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey have been the core of this thing called the Who. While it's easy to stack up the claims that this really isn't the Who without bassist John Entwistle or Keith Moon, that criticism hold less water as time goes on, and this live document of the band, as it stands today, shows there is still power in their punch.
Recorded in front of a crowd of 65,000 on their home turf in the summer of 2015, Live in Hyde Park is a testament to the power of the Who both in song and in performance. Released by Eagle Rock Entertainment, this package of two CDs and one DVD perfectly captures the energy of the concert.
It was a blessing the day the duo happened upon drummer Zak Starkey who has helped propel the music for nearly 20 years. While bassist Pino Palladino is certainly no Entwistle, he doesn't pretend to be, instead, he simply does his job, holding down the lower four in fine fashion. Meanwhile, Townshend's brother Simon fills in any gaps on rhythm guitar.
"You are a long way away, but we will f---ing reach you," states Pete as he launched into the opening riff from the 1965 classic "I Can't Explain." Those power chords still ring proud as they dish out a spot-on version. "The Seeker" and "Who Are You" quickly follow, the crowd eating out of their hands early on. Starkey is simply a powerhouse on the kit. Daltrey has had his share of vocal issues over the past few years, and while age may prevent the man from regaining the power of his early years, he more than holds his own throughout. He seems to have found that spot vocally that doesn't hide from his age, but rather uses it to good effect. Unlike the posturing of fellow elder statesmen Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Daltrey and Townshend never come off as anything but 100 percent genuine and real.
The performance is never sterile or phoned in, and there are some moments where it's truly inspiring. "The stage for us used to be a war zone basically," says Daltrey in the liner notes. "We used to be determined to drive music through the people, to the back wall." Proof positive is the dynamic "Bargain" and the ragged-but-right rendition of the timeless "My Generation," which, by all rights, should seem ridiculous for a couple of guys on the other side of 70 to try and pull off. But listen to the interplay of Townshend and Starkey and you realize it's not just a song about youth.
At one point Townshend tells the crowd, "When you write songs, you write them and then give them away, they belong to you," before sarcastically adding, "I reserve the right to sell them to car companies, but other than that, they belong to you." A lot of ground is covered here from early gems like "The Kids Are Alright," "I Can See for Miles," and "Pictures of Lily" (which they dedicate to Paul Weller who was also on the bill), to the obvious classics like "Behind Blue Eyes," "Baba O' Riley" and the show stopping "Won't Get Fooled Again." Along the way we also get a chunk of Tommy, and a few somewhat lesser known picks in "Join Together" and "I'm One."
The sound and video are top-shelf with a sharp powerful mix. The DVD also includes bonus tracks of a couple of songs left off the CDs. You can't compare the Who circa 2015 to the band at their peak, but the bottom line is, the creature known as the Who are still delivering, celebrating the music, and doing so with class and power.
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