The Who were on tour in North America when they arrived at Shea Stadium for two sold out shows, October 12-13, 1982. They would not tour again for seven years and it was their last tour with drummer Kenny Jones. Also on hand was keyboardist Tom Gorman.
The entire second show has now been released with five bonus tracks from the first performance. The sound and video are both excellent and have a crispness that belies their age. Many times in a live recording, an instrument is lost in the mix but here everything is in synch, including John Entwistle’s thumbing bass, which provides the foundation for the sound. The only miner issue is the crowd, which is either turned down or was not very loud or invested.
The Who of 1982 had settled into a mature groove. Much of their frenetic approach in concert dissipated with the death of Keith Moon. Jones has not faired very well in the band’s history as Keith Moon was an impossible act to follow but he provided a steadying if not spectacular hand. This is very apparent in this concert as Townshend, Daltry, and Entwistle are connected and involved. It all adds up to one of the better Who concerts on film.
Their Shea Stadium show was a combination of big hits, well-known songs, and a number of obscurities that were rarely played live. “Dangerous,” “It’s Hard,” “Naked Eye,” “Drowned,” and “Cry If You Want” have disappeared into Who history so it is interesting to hear and see them performed on stage.
Only two songs, “Pinball Wizard” and “See Me Feel Me,” are from Tommy, which is a relief as material from the rock opera has appeared on numerous live recordings.
It is their middle career material that forms the foundation for the concert. “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Eminence Front,” and “It’s Hard” all benefit from Gorman’s keyboards and show a sophisticated approach to their live material.
The concert came to a rocking end with “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Summertime Blues,” and “Twist And Shout.”
Of the five bonus tracks “5:15” and “My Generation” were inexplicably left out of the second show, so it nice to have both as extra tracks as the energy just flows from one to the other.
Live At Shea Stadium 1982 is a nice time capsule of The Who. It is a very different live performance than any with Keith Moon as the music was getting more complex and they were in transition as a band. It fills in some gaps in their career and is a must for any of their fans.