Eagle Rock (label)
16 July 2015 (released)
20 July 2015
1982 was supposed to be it for The Who’s touring career. They had made it clear that year that the tour to support their then new album, “It’s Hard,” was going to be their last one. Of course, that was not to be the case, and the bands 1982 trek of North American really just turned out to be their final tour with drummer Kenny Jones.
While the band played some amazing gigs on that tour, the highlight was the quartets two night stint at Shea Stadium. Not only was the group supported by The Clash as an opener each night – which alone makes the shows legendary – the band was playing better than ever – which is evident on the new Eagle Rock DVD/Blu Ray release, “The Who: Live At Shea Stadium 1982.”
Taken from the second night of the Shea shows, the band opens with a jangly take on “Substitute” leading into atomic power pop chords of “I Can’t Explain,” before they band turned to one of a few then newer songs from “It’s Hard,” the John Entwistle penned “Dangerous.”
While it is known that Pete Townshend was not at his happiest during this time, his passion still radiates all night. He shines on a his introspective “I’m One,” which is a shortened version as it leads was to an exhilarating take of “The Punk And The Godfather,” both powerhouse tracks from Quadrophenia.
Looking ever much the rock god front man, Roger Daltrey’s voice was angelic on this night (and, to be honest, on most nights of the bands career) and he puts his whole heart into every word he sang, but really radiates on the Tommy tracks “Pinball Wizard” and “See Me Feel Me.”
It was raining this night at Shea, and the crowd was itchy up front as Daltrey had to twice ask the crowd to back up a bit and not to shove (as, no doubt, the shades of the 1979 Cincinnati tragedy were still on their minds).
Often and so unjustly overlooked, bassist John Entwistle belts out his tongue-in-cheek poke at himself and his reputation as an introvert on “The Quiet One,” the only song from The Who’s “Face Dance’s” record played that night. While he did not take on vocals much this night (he does later on a cover of “Twist and Shout”), his thunderous bass lines were all over this show and reminds once again how sorely his dynamo sound has been missed since his passing in 2002.
And as always, “Won't Get Fooled Again” is performed flawlessly. Kenny Jones, a great drummer in the hardest seat to fill in Rock (Keith Moons) does an amazing job on this cut, especially when the synthesizer break in the song comes in and Jones recreates Moon’s original drum solo which climaxes into Daltrey’s iconic scream, just comes off as if a major, yet magnificent, explosion went off on the stage at Shea.
After this tour ended in Toronto that December, the band would not tour again (save for sets at Live Aid in 1985 and when the band received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1988) until their 25th Anniversary jaunt in 1989 and then again in 1996/97, when they brought Quadrophenia back on the road. But, these were the “big band” versions of The Who, and Townshend was most played acoustic guitar on most of those tours, until the band officially regrouped in 1999 and were back to touring as four piece unit (with keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick, who was absent for 1982 tour, but was quite ably filled in for by Tim Gorman).
The DVD proves that the Shea shows that while The Who may have thought they were over, the were not event half done and “The Who: Live At Shea Stadium 1982” is an astounding testament their legend.