The Who: DVD

December 1, 2004

The Who's explosive 85-minute Isle of Wight performance at 2 a.m. on August 30, 1970 roared into legend almost immediately after Pete Townshend's last power chord dissipated over the festival crowd of 600,000. And for good reason. This is the Who as fearless juggernaut, pummeling the crowd with volume and power and supreme confidence. How many other bands would be arrogant and skillful enough to perform Tommy's orchestrated and multi-layered arrangements as a power trio-and precede that operatic effort with a "conventional" set of hits and concert favorites? No rock musician should ever forget how commanding and charismatic this crew was-Keith as puppy dog dervish, Roger all leather-tasseled, golden-ringed sexuality, John slyly above it all, Pete as bratty ringleader-and that's reason enough to own this DVD.

This is the first time the performance has been presented in 5.1 surround sound, but that's really a minor consideration. Culled from the concert's original 8-track tapes, the audio is still a bit rough-the drums and guitar are somewhat muffled-and the surround perspective is just average (you get an ever-so-slightly delayed stage mix in the rear speakers). The single bonus feature is a new interview with Pete Townshend, who delivers his now-standard, cranky assessment of the band ("I didn't want to be in this band or play this music-I felt trapped"). Someone should tell the guy to embrace what fate bestowed upon him, because people certainly aren't going to remember his ass for Psychoderelict, The Iron Man, or any of his other solo-career trinkets. It's all about the Who, Pete-one of the greatest rock bands ever. God bless them. Eagle Vision.

-Michael Molenda  

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