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The Who: Tommy Live At The Royal Albert Hall (DVD)

I had to double take the press release for new DVD from legendary rockers The Who, when it confidently stated that the band had never performed their 1969 album Tommy in its entirety before. Given that there's been a movie and stage play and that frontman Roger Daltrey has also performed the album under his own name in recent years, that the band never have is something of a surprise. What prompted the singer to take on this extremely personal album from the band's guitarist Pete Townsend, was that he couldn't fill one of the nights for his Teenage Cancer Trust charity shows at The Royal Albert Hall, so he took the slot himself and decided to do something different. With his charity efforts an annual event, it was 2017's occasion that found The Who finally taking the album on for the first time, this performance the 100th show for the charity.

As Townsend admits both during the performance itself and in the short but interesting behind the scenes bonus documentary, with Tommy stemming from the abuse he suffered as a child, playing this album nearly 50 years later was no easy task. However his on stage display is quite breathtaking, as a mixture of classics and lesser celebrated cuts are delivered with the perfect blend of gusto and precision. In the grand setting of The Royal Albert Hall, the huge screens behind the band show newly created animations (of which we get standalone versions of "The Acid Queen" and "Pinball Wizard" in the extras), creating, along with the historic venue itself, a real sense of occasion. Something that visually comes to life through sparkling, pin-point sharp camera work and some imaginative direction that allows you to feel part of the show; the camera below Daltrey's mic-stand that picks out the singer in almost saintly light being inspired. In terms of sound, things are equally impressive, the power of the live performance relayed, but without compromising the clarity one jot. The separation between instruments achieved quite superbly, while the precise drumming from Zak Starkey is presented magnificently, allowing every tom strike and kick drum blast to really drive home. If there's a weakness, then it's the high end register of Daltrey's voice, but given that he's 73 years young, we really should be marvelling that his vocals are still so strong and so full of character, than picking out the slight faults that now exist.

In all you get just over two and a half hours of entertainment, the main event augmented by a seven song greatest hits encore where the likes of "Can't Explain", "Love Reign O'Er Me" and the storming show closing "Won't Get Fooled Again" illustrate just how timeless this band and their music really is. Even some 53 years after the joined together, and down to only two founder members, The Who are breaking boundaries and setting standards, and Tommy Live At The Royal Albert Hall finds them still at their best.

Track Listing
2. Overture
3. It's A Boy
4. 1921
5. Amazing Journey
6. Sparks
7. Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker)
8. Christmas
9. Cousin Kevin
10. The Acid Queen
11. Do You Think It's Alright?
12. Fiddle About
13. Pinball Wizard
14. There's A Doctor
15. Go To The Mirror!
16. Tommy Can You Hear Me?
17. Smash The Mirror
18. Underture
19. I'm Free
20. Miracle Cure
21. Sensation
22. Sally Simpson
23. Welcome
24. Tommy's Holiday Camp
25. We're Not Gonna Take It
26. I Can't Explain
27. Join Together
28. I Can See For Miles
29. Who Are You
30. Love, Reign O'er Me
31. Baba O'Riley
32. Won't Get Fooled Again

Added: October 29th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Tommy Live At The R. Albert Hall @ The Who online
Hits: 1138
Language: english

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The Who: Tommy Live At The Royal Albert Hall (DVD)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-10-29 12:29:43
My Score:

Though yes, technically Tommy Live at the Royal Albert Hall is the first time The Who have ever performed the rock opera in its complete entirety, the band of course have played Tommy to nearly 95% complete capacity countless times over the years, especially early on at landmark concerts at Leeds and the Isle or Wight festival. In April of 2017 however the band decided to once again tackle the epic concept album, this time adding in the couple of little interludes and song or two that they've omitted in previous live situations, for a 'complete album' performance, with proceeds going to the Teenage Cancer Trust, who vocalist Roger Daltrey has done extensive work with over the last few years. Along with fellow founder Pete Townshend, drummer Zak Starkey, guitarist/vocalist Simon Townshend, new bassist Jon Button, and keyboard players John Coren, Loren Gold, and Frank Simes, the band do a fantastic job bringing Tommy to life once again in the confines of the legendary Royal Albert Hall. For encores, The Who dip into their rich catalog for strong versions of "I Can't Explain", "Who Are You", "Baba O'Reilly", "Love Reign O'er Me", and of course "Won't Get Fooled Again" plus a few others. It's worth noting that Daltrey sounds better here than he has in years, and while he can't quite hit those high notes of his youth, for a guy in his early '70s he sounds better than some singers half his age.

Eagle Vision has once again knocked it out of the park on the presentation (this is the review of the Blu-ray release), as the video quality is spot on (including some incredible camera work) and crystal clear, while the audio lets you hear every little nuance available. Pop this bad boy into your home theater system and experience the greatness of The Who, still going strong now 50 years into their existence!

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