I just finished a DVD set which qualifies as a “must-view” for classic
hard rock fans and a “must-have” for fans of The Who, “The Who at
Kilburn: 1977.” Disc one is devoted to a concert from December 1977,
and assembled by filmmaker Jeff Stein, who wanted to procure footage
of The Who’s “newer” songs (i.e., “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled
Again”) for the movie, “The Kids Are Alright.” As the accompanying
booklet explains, the versions performed at this show were deemed
unworthy, and additional footage for the film was shot the following
year. In short, this concert of roughly 64 minutes has languished in
obscurity ever since, and is now available to the masses.
The concert was given at the Gaumont State Theatre in Kilburn on
December 15, 1977. Although at that time, The Who allegedly hadn’t
performed together for 14 months and were “rough around the edges,”
it is still powerful stuff. If a band can still sound this good on an off day
…you get my drift. Keith Moon definitely wasn’t at his best, and perhaps
Daltrey flubbed a few words, but this is still raw, impassioned, “kick-ass”
rock. The sound and visual quality is also pretty good.
The real treat lies on disc two. Contained therein is a concert from
December 14, 1969 at the London Coliseum, home of Sadler’s Wells
(soon to be the English National) Opera Company. The band is definitely
firing on all cylinders here, and if memory serves me correctly, the
performances are at least as inspiring as those on the “Isle of Wight”
DVD. Unfortunately, the sound and video quality isn’t as good as on
disc one. As explained in the booklet and on the DVD, the lighting was
set up for the concert, instead of the film. There are numerous “dropouts,”
due to frequent reel changes, etc. The overall quality is still good
enough to be enjoyed by a true fan, especially when heard at the
proper (i.e., LOUD) volume level.
In addition, the booklet does not adequately explain the extras
on this disc. Although the band’s mini-opera, “A Quick One,” is
preceded by a six-minute introduction from Pete, and performed
as part of the roughly 72-minute concert, that same mini-opera
performance precedes an abridged, 70-minute presentation of
“Tommy,” which completes the extras on the disc.
The main concert featuring a “Live at Leeds” set with the
aforementioned “A Quick One,” is complete with excerpts from
“Tommy,” while the (almost) complete “Tommy,” presumably
from the same show, was featured on the “extras” disc. I mention
this to say that it’s important to watch EVERYTHING on disc two,
lest you miss something!
I think that these two shows, separated by eight years, complement
each other nicely. The band is shown at two different stages of their
careers, and it is fascinating and rewarding to view them in both
shows. It is difficult to describe the sheer exhilaration felt when seeing
and hearing four seemingly disparate playing styles coming together
to make such a powerful whole. At the risk of overstating the obvious,
I now feel further vindicated when I say that The Who was one of
the VERY BEST “live” rock acts.
Obviously, I highly recommend this DVD set.