DVD review: THE WHO – Live In Hyde Park

THE WHO - Live In Hyde Park

Eagle Vision [Release date 13.11.15]

The archetypal rockers The Rolling Stones returned to Hyde Park to celebrate their 50 years in 2013.  In the summer of 2015 mod icons The Who did the same.  Perhaps it should be renamed Jurassic Park?

The Who’s performance at Glastonbury two days later would be, Townsend claimed, one of the worst shows the band had ever played – plagued by sound and lighting gremlins.  Here, with their own lighting rig and sound system, it’s a very different story with Daltrey and Townsend, hitting the ground running from the opening strains of ‘I Can’t Explain’.  Townsend windmills and Daltrey sounds far stronger vocally than he did at Glastonbury (although understandably the ravages of time have taken their toll).

Like many outdoor gigs it’s not until the sun sets that the spectacular stage set comes into its own.  Although even in the dying embers of the day, the early images and footage of the band displayed on the massive backdrop screens add an intimate poignancy to proceedings.

The set, naturally, celebrates the spectrum of band’s musical legacy with most of the expected crowd pleasers included.  But it’s some of the less well known numbers – like ‘Eminence Day’ from 1982′s It’s Hard – that really impress.

The touring band does everything that’s required – Zak Starkey (gifted a kit by Moon as a child) fits the bill perfectly on drums and Pino Palladino follows John Entwistle’s lead by remaining largely in the shadows.  And the sound is padded out with aplomb by Townsend’s brother Simon on guitar, and John Corey, Loren Gold and Frank Simes on keyboards.

If perhaps, not quite the visual spectacle laid on by The Stones, the Who will be proud to go out fighting – a theme that’s pervaded their 50 years – if this should be the end of the long goodbye, as Townsend describes it.  And it’s with some sadness, as they close out with ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, that you realise they truly are one of a dying breed.

So if you didn’t manage to catch their 50th anniversary tour (and there’s still time), and even if you did, this dvd is a suitable celebration of their part in rock history.  It did however seem a strange decision to break the footage up with interview segments.  No matter how insightful, it spoils the flow – especially if you just want to absorb the event. **** 

Review by Pete Whalley

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