The Who are a legendary band both in the pop and rock musical genres. However, it is for two albums of rock opera that they are particularly known. Tommy and Quadrophenia – two albums released within a short time scale in 1969 – 1973. While the later has been performed in its entirety regularly live over the years (and not just by The Who) in a live gig however, “Tommy” has only selectively been dipped into by the band over their long musical career. The album has certainly been given its full share of acclaim through a film, a stage production and also by taking up a large section of the band’s classic “Live at Leeds” release.
On 13 October 2017, Eagle Rock Entertainment released Tommy – Live At The Royal Albert Hall by The Who on DVD, Blu-ray, 2CD, 3LP [Cat Nos EREDV1301, ERBRD5339, EDGCD680 and EAGLP681 respectively], Digital Video and Digital Audio. This unbelievable concert film captures the first ever live performance by The Who of “Tommy” in its entirety and boasts over two hours and twenty minutes of content. The show includes all time classics like “Pinball Wizard”, “I’m Free”, “Amazing Journey”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “I Can’t Explain”, “Who Are You”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “I Can See For Miles” and many more!
In April 2017, The Who took to the stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall to perform their rock opera “Tommy” live in its entirety for the first time in their long and illustrious career. Previous Who live shows had always dropped two, three or four tracks from the album but for this show in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust the band would perform every track. With specially created animations on a huge screen above the stage and creative use of lighting the concert told the story of the “deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure played a mean pinball.” In addition, at the end of Tommy, the sell-out crowd was treated to a short set of Who classics. Always a great live band, this performance was a thrilling ride from start to finish.
In addition to the live concert this DVD also includes some interview footage with the remaining 2 original band members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend where they discuss the Tommy project from its early origins. The personal insights from Townsend in particular certainly conjure up a reaction as he reveals how performance of the piece triggered some very real physical and mental scars of his upbringing. This in particular caused me to view the piece in quite a new light and presented a deeper insight as I listened to the bitter lyrics dissecting personal abuse. While I was familiar with a few of the tracks in isolation this also aided me to view the concept as an overall piece. Presented in this format it gave a new perception to the already familiar tunes
Although the idea of performing evergreen songs from several generations ago would seem in theory to not work before an audience of 2017 music fans it’s to the genius of the band and its mainstays that its impact proved so effective. Aided in part by the benefits of modern technology and its accompanying visual presentations.
The Who greatest hits set which follows the entire presentation of the Tommy piece further illustrates that genius is everlasting when the band blast through that with an energy belying their respective ages. It may no longer be “My Generation” but the band can still certainly “See for Miles”.