Tommy was one of the seminal albums in rock history. Pete Townsend, Roger Daltry, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon took rock and roll music and moved in a new and creative direction. While the Who would produce a number of excellent rock albums and sell tens-of-millions of copies; Tommy was their defining release.
Quadrophrenia was released in 1973 as the next step in a musical vision that began with Tommy. It was a more ambitious and personal project that contained some of the most sophisticated music of the band’s career. Tommy made the complex simple, while Quadrophrenia was just complex, which gave it a very different feel. It is music that requires your attention and commitment to listen too and appreciate. While not as commercially successful as its predecessor, it represents the peak of Townsends creative process.
Quadrophrenia: Live In London is an album that took four decades to create and in some ways brings the music to a satisfying conclusion. The release presents a complete live performance of the album followed by a six song encore.
The Who of today is far different from the band of 1973. John Entwistle is gone and Keith Moon is long gone. While Townsends guitar play is crisp and Daltry’s voice is better than I have heard it in years; John and Keith are missed. It’s not so much in the music as it is in the perception. This is more apparent on the DVD than the CD’s.
Townsend and Daltry have recruited drummer Scott Devours and bassist Dino Palladino to round out the basic quartet and both are more than competent musicians.
In many ways the music from Quadrophrenia has withstood the passage of time better than Tommy. Listening to the music in chronological order heightens an appreciation of the album and story. “The Rock,” “5:15,” and “Love Reins O’er Me” form a blistering rock trifecta. Townsend and Daltry appear invested in the performance as it may be a final curtain call for the album. It may not be classic Who but it is very good and at this point in their career the effort is appreciated.
The six song encore is icing on the cake. “Who Are You,” “You Better You Bet,” “”Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Tea & Theatre” are sort of an odd combination but are welcome as live performances.
The sound and video throughout is excellent. The concert was filmed and recorded for release and the care in which that was done shows.
Time is passing and the Who are closing the book on a chapter of their lives. For any fan of the band this release is a must although it must be approached with the year 2014 in mind. Quadrophrenia: Live In London was an ambitious project with a worthy result from an important band in the late fall of their career.