'The Who - Live In Hyde Park' [DVD/2CD Combo]
(The Who / DVD+2CD / NR / 2015 / Eagle Rock)
Overview: Filmed on June 26th, 2015, just as The Who celebrated their 50th Anniversary, this stunning show from London's famous Hyde Park is a triumphant return to their home city. On a glorious summer evening the band delivered a brilliant performance of all their greatest hits in front of a 50,000 strong crowd.
DVD+2CD Verdict: With a series of stunning backdrops making full use of the huge screens surrounding the stage, and an exceptional light show, this is a Who concert on a grand scale; quite like nothing I have ever seen before, in truth!
Still looking great, still as chatty as ever, and - for the most part re: Roger Daltrey - still able to hit the musical vocal heights of these now-iconic songs, 'The Who - Live In Hyde Park' is a visual and audio delight. Packaged here in both a DVD and 2CD set - now that's forward thinking on some PR department for Christmas! - as the show opens to some Zak Starkey drums "working themselves up," everything goes quiet for a few seconds, before Pete Townsend takes to the mic. "You are a long way away," he pays mention to the audience, as they sprawl out for, seemingly miles before him. "But we will f**kin' reach you," he adds, to the backing roar of the crowd.
Taking the musical review from the longer-running, more songs included 2CD portion of the combo package, the speeches and observations from the DVD, the first song out of the musical cannon is 'I Can't Explain,' and that's backed by a powerful 'The Seeker.' "Thank you," Roger Daltrey addresses the crowd, "have you had a good day?" he further asks, before we get a quite brilliant 'Who Are You.'
"This song now is for a special friend who requested it, and we don't often do special requests, but for this man I'd do almost anything," Daltrey admits. "This song is for Paul Weller," he adds, before Townsend corrects him - and tells him that he's got the next two songs back to front! So after some getting-old banter between the two of them, the first song we get is actually a mid-tempo 'The Kids Are Alright,' which then leads into the Weller-requested 'Pictures of Lily.'
Townsend then verbally talks about the next song, "which was the end of The Who's singles hits", 'I Can See For Miles,' before the guys launch into both ("This next one's for people of any age, any grace, any time, anywhere," says Townsend) 'My Generation,' and then a vocally croaky 'Behind Blue Eyes.' I mean, sure, I know that Daltrey can't be as pristine as he was back 50 years ago, but some songs are just, well, croakier than others here, that's all. Moving on and we get ("This next song is about doing a deal with God, and is one of the first songs I ever wrote") 'Bargain,' which has always been one of my favorites, and then the first CD rounds out with both 'Join Together' and then another latter day favorite of mine, 'You Better You Bet.'
The second CD opens with Townsend recollecting their last tour, which was a live retelling of their historic Quadrophenia, and thanks everyone for coming out on this special day in Hyde Park. They then play two songs from the aforementioned Quadrophenia, the first an electric acoustic guitar and harmonica-influnced 'I'm One,' the second a stunning, piano-opened 'Love Reign O'er Me.' The band then take time away from idle chit-chat on the mic's to perform long versions of both 'Eminence Front' and a near nine minute long 'Amazing Journey / Overture / Sparks.'
Next up is a hair-raisingly good 'Pinball Wizard,' which comes in under three minutes, and that's backed by a great rendition of 'See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You.' But, even after all that, it's as the opening key chords on the harpsichord of 'Baba O'Riley' come forth, that you suddenly realize just how damn much you miss this band; and the real, truthful, honest rock music they once brought to the radios, to the chats, to the masses. A stunning near-eight minute long version, sure Daltrey's vocals are suffering at this final turn, but he can still lick his chops, even now, trust me.
Townsend then introduces the backing band, inclusive of his very own brother, along with the aforementioned Zak Starkey on drums (son of Beatles legend, Ringo Starr), before the band launch themselves, one last time into a near-14 minute long version of 'Won't Get Fooled Again.' Watching Daltrey still swinging the mic around, time after time after time as the song comes to a close, is a flashback in time that is, well, timeless. There isn't one band member flagging, even now, and this truly wonderful evening is brought to a close verbally. "We don't come to concerts, we f**kin' congregate," Townsend relates to the gathered-from-around-the-world audience before them. And, after an ending speech from Daltrey thanking the crowd, and explaining how the band couldn't have been where they are today without the support of them, the fans. It's a great ending to a terrific show.
As noted above, the DVD version of this show has less tracks on it, but being that this incredible set-list is spread over 2CDs and a DVD (there's even a 3LP+DVD combo set out there of this very same show AND a rather lavish Deluxe Edition comes packaged with an exclusive 60 page hardback photo book, containing the DVD, Blu-ray & 2CDs!), the set-list is still a collective work of musical art. I mean, come on now, if you put all this together now, how on earth isn't this (quite nearly) the greatest thing that The Who (in recent years) have brought out?!
1. I Can't Explain - 2. Who Are You - 3. The Kids Are Alright - 4. Pictures Of Lily - 5. I Can See For Miles - 6. My Generation - 7. Behind Blue Eyes - 8. Bargain - 9. Join Together - 10. You Better You Bet - 11. I'm One - 12. Love Reign O'er Me - 13. Eminence Front - 14. Amazing Journey / Sparks - 15. Pinball Wizard - 16. See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You - 17. Baba O'Riley - 18. Won't Get Fooled Again.
Also, the interviews between some of the songs are very interesting. As Daltrey himself says in one of the interviews, he also felt they were truly at the "top of their game" in this performance. Three of the four bonus tracks contain videos used as backgrounds on the very large stage screens during the concert: 'The Seeker,' 'The Kids Are Alright,' 'You Better You Bet,' and 'Squeeze Box.'
This Hyde Park show was a true one-off, a mass coming together to mark the fiftieth anniversary of one of the true greats, a band whose music has already stood the tests of time and will always be with us. The Who - Live In Hyde Park is simply unmissable.