2020 Album Draft- Round 2- Pick 1- Run-Sew-Read selects- The Who- Live In Hyde Park.
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My second draft pick is The Who Live in Hyde Park, their album recorded outdoors in 2015, aka 45 years after Live at Leeds.
This 2-CD album is what I’d describe as a sing-along, because fans of classic rock already know all of the songs. There’s no need for me to describe Baba O’Riley, Love Reign O’er Me, Pinball Wizard, Won’t Get Fooled Again, or any of the other songs. What sets this album apart and makes it part of my desert island collection, is two things: First, I was privileged to be there in Hyde Park on 26 June 2015, so this literally transports me back to a great memory. Second, Roger, Pete and the band perform in such a way that the songs are renewed and relevant today. The phrase, “That didn’t age well,” does not apply to any of the 40- and 50-year old songs in this performance. Pete and Roger’s enthusiastic performances, banter and interaction with the crowd made everything relevant to the three or more generations that were there listening in 2015.
The performance is loaded with excellent, fun banter. The set opens with Pete reacting to the sold-out crowd of 65,000 stretching back through the park. “You are a long way away. [cheers from the crowd] “But we will f*ing reach you.” [crowd roars] Then the band comes alive with “Can’t Explain”.
The banter continues throughout the performance, as Pete ties the songs in to the several generations present, and Roger inserts his humor. Toward the end, Pete offers a warm welcome that spoke to us who traveled internationally to get there. “To those of you who came a long way, welcome to England. …. Here in England, we don’t come to concerts; we f*ing congregate!”
The recording and production are top-notch. The vocals are loud and clear. There aren’t a boatload of reviews on Amazon, but the collective rating is 4.8/5, which is correct, I say.
There is no Keith Moon in here, but they long ago brought in the next best thing, Keith’s godson, Zak Starkey. Zak is a perfect fit. I love watching and hearing him play with The Who.
There is no John Entwistle, but Pino Palladino fills in excellently.
Pete’s brother Simon Townshend also blends in perfectly to enhance guitar and vocals. Zak and Simon have actually been touring with The Who for a very long time. I saw them perform with Roger and John Entwistle in 1990 in Kansas City. That’s 30 years of performing with The Who. It’s not up to me to say who is and is not in the band, but just the same, I say these two belong.
The concert was also produced on video, and that DVD was included with the 2-CD set. The DVD is an excellent way to experience the concert. But for listening, I prefer the CDs, in my car, where they’ve been almost continuously since 2015.
If I were to pick a subset of favorite tracks from this performance, it would probably be Who Are You, The Kids are Alright, My Generation, Baba O’Riley, and Won’t Get Fooled Again. Those are the tracks that most effectively transport me back to Hyde Park.
But my most favorite track to listen to on the CD is an easy pick, and a total surprise, even for me. It’s I’m One. On the Quadrophenia album, I thought this song had nice elements, but lost its way and became invisible among the more prominent numbers. But on to 2015 and the live stage, where the song literally comes of age, thanks to pensioner-aged Pete’s inspired rendition, complete with proper Cockney accent. Here it is with a nice opening of the banter I described earlier.