Music Blu-ray Review: The Who - Live at Shea Stadium 1982

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New on Blu-ray (also DVD) from Eagle Rock Entertainment is The Who's Live at Shea Stadium 1982, a complete show taped on October 13, 1982 during a New York City stop on the band's "final" (announced as such, turned out otherwise) tour. Emphasis should fall on the word "taped." Watching what Eagle Rock calls right upfront a "SD Blu-ray," it's impossible to forget we're firmly in the early-'80s, pre-HD video era. The reason for getting the Blu-ray, in this case, is for the lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Audio is also presented in LPCM 2.0 stereo.

What began as a support tour for their then-new album It's Hard eventually morphed into a "farewell" trek. This isn't really a video for the casual Who enthusiast—there are other more easily-recommendable releases, specifically those featuring original Who drummer Keith Moon. Following Moon's untimely death in 1978 (he was 32), Faces drummer Kenney Jones was quickly ushered in as a replacement. Jones is a very solid rock and roll drummer who did a great job with the Faces, but his style is far more conventional than Moon's one-of-a-kind wizardry.

Keyboardist Tim Gorman is on-hand to help thicken the sound, but overall the front line—Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals), Roger Daltrey (lead vocals, a bit of guitar and harmonica), John Entwistle (bass, vocals)—seems a bit wearied, as if merely going through the motions. They're absolutely professional, each sporting relatively conservative period-friendly fashions (actually Townshend looks fairly tacky, truth be told). There's just seems to be a dearth of true passion and rock and roll abandon. Easing into middle-age and faltering without Moon, this version of The Who is no match for the classic era.

The set list includes many of the expected show-stopping crowd pleasers: "I Can't Explain," "Behind Blue Eyes," "Who Are You," "Baba O'Riley," "Won't Get Fooled Again." There are tunes from It's Hard, including the title track, Entwistle's "Dangerous," and the memorable minor hit "Eminence Front." The show is an important document for hardcore fans, effectively conveying exactly what level the band was operating at during this point in their history. Whether they were enjoying themselves or not, it's hard to say—but it doesn't sound or look like it. Some of the loosest and most fun moments are the lesser-performed tunes, including a rockin', Entwistle-led cover of The Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There." They also sound enthusiastic while plowing through a rowdy "Twist and Shout."

A very welcome added bonus: five tunes from the previous night, October 12, at Shea. These include: "Substitute," "I Can't Explain," "My Generation," "A Man is a Man" (from It's Hard), and "5:15." Those last three are particularly significant, as they were not part of the full (October 13) concert.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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