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Is this the best gig ever?

Sunday 1/23/22

The Who have erred in how they've handled their legacy, by which I mean, there are so many outstanding concert tapes in the vaults--and the Who were dynamic artists on a stage--and yet little of it gains official release. When they do reissues, the focus, so far as bonus material goes, is on Pete Townshend's demos. It's like they treat this as an either/or situation. Why, for instance, when Quadrophenia came out in a Super Deluxe Edition, were the Philadelphia and Landover shows from 1973 not included? Leeds and Hull have also been botched. Neither runs in the correct order, there's a terrible edit in "My Generation" on the reissued Leeds, and Leeds is missing material. To best hear the Leeds show, one should either go with the original six track album, or else find the bootleg of the whole thing. The only two ways to listen--both experiences are markedly different. In one case, it's like listening to an album designed as an album that just happened to have been recorded live; in the other, it's like listening to a stunning show, soup to nuts, but with different levels of terrain, I guess you could say--not the same thematic focus. Which isn't a knock; just a difference.

Common consensus is the Who peaked as a live act in 1971, but this is wrong. They were perhaps never better than in 1975, and were excellent, too, in 1976. You can find a soundboard recording of a portion of this December 6, 1975 show from Pontiac, Michigan, but this is the entire gig, via a fine audience recording. A suburb audience recording, actually. There's another from Toronto five days later, which is at least at the level of this show, in somewhat cleaner sound. But this is a remarkable piece of music, and if one wanted to say it exceeds Leeds, I'd listen to you. Keith Moon lost his ability to drum quickly. He's pretty poor come 1977. Here, he's simply awesome. They all are awesome.


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