Friday, November 28, 2008

The Who at Kilburn 1977

I don't write much about music or books here but both of those things are big passions--I often joke that my "holy trinity" is film, books and music. Well, after watching The Who at Kilburn 1977 I've decided to merge two interests for this post.

The Who at Kilburn 1977 (great, succinct title) is a concert film of the legendary live band after a hiatus of over a year (bands didn't really disappear for long periods of time three decades ago--they made music and toured, a lot). The concert was filmed on 35mm with multiple cameras and parts of the gig were used in the Who film The Kids are All Right. The film is gorgeous and it sounds absolutely amazing. The Who at Kilburn 1977 captures The Who in all their blistering, stubborn glory and is a great introduction to the power of live performance.

The Who were an incredible band. A unit of four shared parts with each member bringing their own individuality to the band to make them possibly the best band in the world during their peak. Watching The Who in 1977 perform live (as it was for audiences who saw them the previous decade) was a visceral experience. The band unleashes a torrent of raw rock n roll that is tight, unhinged, in your face, melodic, anthemic, tortured and unflinching. The Who were a gang; The Who at Kilburn 1977 is witness to that musical gang as they deliver a devastating set of songs to the North London crowd.

Let's meet The Who: Pete Townsend, guitarist, songwriter, windmills, scissor kicks, seething at audience/amps/self (at one point challenges any "gits" to come on stage--no one does). Roger Daltrey, tight jean wearing street fighter, swings mic better than Will Rogers could trick lasso, sings his guts out. John Entwistle, quick fingered bassist, the most underrated member of band, delivers an incredible, blistering stare into the lens at one point during the concert that might be my favorite moment of the show. Keith Moon, aw Keith, the jester, the madman drumming his arse off in his unique style, Moon was in his slide down but this show has his powerful drumming and eccentricities that have made him a beloved figure in rock history.

Put that unit of four together and they are absolutely unstoppable. I could listen to "Baba O'Riley" or "Won't Get Fooled Again" for about three straight hours. Other gems include "Substitute," "Pinball Wizard," "My Life," and "My Generation." The Who at Kilburn 1977 is as good a musical document to a band's raw power as you will ever see. Recommended.

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