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The Who At The Isle of Wight Festival 2004

Doug Collette By

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While the stage production values, including the dual giant video screens, are striking to a point-in contrast to the garish and amateurish art for this package-they're nonetheless far removed from the more lavish and expansive likes of which graced The Who Live in Hyde Park 2015 (Eagle Rock, 2015). Nevertheless, the connection the group makes with the audience is, again, mutually heartfelt, engendering muted but no less earnest expressions of gratitude from the principals at show's end. Pete Townshend's lighthearted and self-effacing repartee with the crowd throughout the show is also an expression of generosity in keeping with his largely more forgiving stance on his work and that of the Who in recent years.

In line with that perspective, the titular leader of the Who's recognition of an increasingly young audience at Who concerts can hardly be purely coincidental and no doubt feeds the increasingly steady workload and, in turn, the group's increasingly high profile over the course of this decade in particular. Some may thus look askance at such activity—as well as that of the Rolling Stones, a group with whom the Who are now virtual peers—and decry them as shadows of their former selves or worse, (in the eyes and to the ears of the deeply cynical) merely glorified tribute bands.

But the fact is the genuinely great rock and roll that comprises setlists like that of The Who At The Isle of Wight Festival 2004 deserves continued recognition. As with Jagger, Richards and company, there are hardly any superior (or more proud) proponents of this stellar work than the original artists, no matter now long in the tooth they're becoming.

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