Live In Hyde Park (2 CD/DVD)

The Who

Eagle Rock , 2015

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


To what degree this is considered The Who is debatable, of course, but the document of this 2015 show is a fun, triumphant document for fans of the band.

Obviously, the heady days of 1970’s Live At Leeds and four pissed-off Mods are long gone, as are two of the four band members that comprised one of rock and roll's greatest rhythm sections, bar none. So "The Who" is now singer Roger Daltrey, songwriter/guitarist/singer/legend Pete Townshend, and six other musicians who share the stage. Credit for keeping it in the family; Zak Starkey (Ringo's son) is the drummer, Pete's brother Simon is on rhythm guitar, the great Pino Palladino plays bass and then three keyboard players round out the sound, though honestly they don't add much (one of them, Frank Simes, is also credited as "musical director," which bugs me a little bit).

The DVD and two CDs chronicle the night in Hyde Park, which was packed to the gills with fans of all ages, many of whom sing or clap along even though they weren't even conceived when "I Can See For Miles" came out in 1967, to quote Pete Townshend. As for the set list, it is pretty much every Who compilation on the market with a slightly different running order. All the songs are or were major radio hits except maybe "The Seeker" and the surprise inclusion of "I'm One" off my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Quadrophenia. The only song missing is "Magic Bus" and maybe "5:15," from a hits standpoint.

Regardless of their ages, Daltrey and Townshend put on a great show still, full of energy and a seeming affection for these anthems that have affected and influenced so many. Obviously, their voices have become much rougher with age, and Daltrey doesn't even try to hit most of the higher notes, but his growl gives these songs more of an edge, especially on "Love, Reign O'er Me." Granted, it sounds a bit silly on "My Generation," the perpetual anthem of youth, but he just blows through "Hope I die before I get old" and moves on to stuttering the next verse.

Being a Who show, the sound is still a bit ragged in places – a couple of missed notes, early entries, etc. – which lends this more of an authentic feel than a polished star-studded show would. This approach is commendable. Starkey, for his part, is on point throughout (and gets the biggest cheers from the crowd when the band is introduced after a fiery "Baba O'Riley"). The songs veer through the band's early days ("My Generation," "Pictures Of Lily," "I Can See For Miles," "The Kids Are Alright") through the predictable selections from Tommy, Who's Next and the biggest latter-day hits ("You Better You Bet," "Who Are You," "Eminence Front"). 

Again, these are all played very well, with energy and mostly faithful to the versions apart from the singing. Only "Amazing Journey/Sparks" gives the band a chance to jam a bit, stretching out with some solos and a groove. The closing "Won't Get Fooled Again" is appropriately epic, culminating in Daltrey's scream and the crunchy, slashing riffs that make the song so fantastic. About the only criticism is the reliance on the studio keyboard parts that start this song, "Eminence Front," "You Better You Bet" and "Baba O'Riley." Why one of the three keyboard players couldn't replicate those is beyond me; those are the points where the show feels calculated instead of organic. I also suspect Daltrey's "Fooled" scream had a bit of digital enhancement too, since it sounds exactly like the album scream with his current growl on top of it. Maybe I'm wrong, and it doesn't really matter anyway.

The point is, the show is a celebration of Who music, played with vigor by two of its architects and six modern acolytes. It will be a treat for fans and pretty unnecessary for everyone else.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2015 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eagle Rock , and is used for informational purposes only.