The Who Live in Hyde Park Eagle Vision
If seeing The Who in Hyde Park
in a theater the fall of 2015 didn't provoke the thought, watching the DVD of Chris Rule's terrific film cements the impression the group now fronted by guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Pete Townshend and lead vocalist Roger Daltrey is the greatest tribute band in the world.
Anyone who's been apprehensive about seeing the Who since the passing of original members, drummer Keith Moon and bassist/vocalist/composer John Entwistle, will have their apprehensions reaffirmed here too because, as professional and versatile is this eight-piece ensemble, capable of producing the layered arrangements of the best Who recordings, the combined violence and euphoria of the the original quartet is virtually nowhere to be found. There are, to be fair, the briefest flashes of a similar kinetic energy emanating from the peripatetic drumming of Zak Starkey, son of Beatles Ringo Starr( who, when he was ten-years old, according to Townshend's lighthearted but ascertaining intro, received a drum kit from Moon) .
As deserving and perhaps more so of physical release as the documentary on Quadrophenia (MCA, 1973), Can You See the Real Me, The Who in Hyde Park should eventually become an essential entry into the band's history. This vibrant piece of cinema places the group's work in the proper historical context, not just of their native London where this even took place in the summer of 2015, but in documenting an ongoing connection with their audience rivaling the deepest in rock history (i.e. the Grateful Dead).
And, as much in their spoken words during the interviews (the full extent of which would serve as splendid bonus features), as the stunning graphics as projected during the concert, in front of which they play and sing, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are going to great lengths to pay rightful homage to their deceased brethren Keith Moon and John Entwistle, without sentimentality or any other saccharine emotions.
In fact, to paraphrase Townshend, the band was the least significant part of the June 2015 Hyde Park event, a bit of an overstatement (as he is prone to) but not far off the mark. The professionalism that benefited early pop-oriented tunes like "I Can;'t Explain" and "The Kids Are Alright," rightfully causing the audience to ripple with excited singalong, simply subdues the exalting likes of "Bargain" and "Baba O'Riley." That said, the exalting nature of such material from Who's Next
(MCA, 1971), and, the similarly inspiring excerpts from the rock opera Tommy
(MCA, 1969) , including "Listening to You," is the very reason Townshend and Daltrey carry on: the Who can claim a handful of the most exciting rock and roll songs ever written.
In addition, based on this majestic movie of Rule's, including more than one absolutely stunning panorama of the venue and London at large during the daylight portion of the show as well as expert shots of the projected graphics that magnify their impact as well as the presence of the band itself, the Who are becoming equally artful in preserving and honoring their past; this nuanced approach places live performances, on their own terms, in just the proper context, precisely because the surviving duo know very well how they and their fallen comrades, are shadowed by their own history. .