Honolulu Star-Bulletin reviews live Who CD

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 17 06:28:41 CDT 2004

On line at:

2-CD set lets fans relive the Who’s isle concert
"Authorized bootlegs" recorded at the August show
preserve many of the night's memories

Review by Burl Burlingame
bburlingame at starbulletin.com

Are your ears still ringing? When the Who returned to
Honolulu in early August, they put on a memorable
show. But time passes, and those great ringing power
chords and arch-melancholic melodies about identity
and dignity are fading in the scrim of memory.
But they don't have to, thanks an innovative way of
preserving the aural particulars of each show.

The Who have always been good to their fan base --
and, better yet, understanding -- while at the same
time providing money's-worth product. When bootlegs
were all the rage in the early '70s, they recorded the
ultimate bootleg album, "Live at Leeds," still a
staggering rush of adolescent flash. One of their
first studio records, in fact, was "The Who Sell Out,"
which spoofed the whole uneasy shark-remora symbiosis
of commerce and rock 'n' roll.

As the latest Who concert tour dates end, as fans are
filing out, many may have missed a PA announcement
urging them to check out TheMusic.com for a recording
of that night's concert.

Turns out they weren't kidding.

In conjunction with the Who's Eelpie merchandising
wing, TheMusic is offering actual CDs recorded at each
stop of the band's tour. Think of them as "authorized
bootlegs," except that they're sanctioned and recorded
off the soundboard by the artists and producers
themselves. Each two-CD set is supposedly shipped
three weeks after a performance. The one I ordered of
the Honolulu performance took more like five weeks.

They are only available through TheMusic.com, and the
price is set in sterling: 15 pounds, which works out
to about $22.50 these days, plus a shipping charge.
The profits are earmarked for the Who's music
education charities.

Every stop on the 2004 Who tour has been recorded,
even the Maui show. TheMusic's web site reveals that
the set list varied between gigs. 

If you're a hard-core Who completist, you can buy
every gig in a box set, and it comes in an adorable
little aluminum "gig" box. They're numbered, only 150
are available and it'll cost you somewhere between
$800 and $900. But hey, hey, it's the Who.

IT'S FASCINATING new technology, and a clever new way
of repackaging the music business. It's been done
before, and wouldn't you know, it was done by Peter
Gabriel, always on the cutting edge. Duran Duran did
it last year, too.

(For you music pirates out there, it's not that easy
to "rip" the songs off these albums. They are
preserved in a unique data format that plays on any CD
player but does not download.)

So how does it sound?

Considering that it's a direct soundboard mix, with
ambient microphones set up at each venue, it's ...
pretty wonderful.

It's so good, in fact, that one immediately suspects
some back-shop tinkering. Did they really play this
excellently? I recall distinctly Pete Townsend's
guitar going hamajang in the middle of a song and a
few exciting moments of atonal mayhem, but deuced if I
can find it here. And there's is virtually no dead air
between tunes.

An even closer listening reveals that it really is the
Honolulu show. You can distinctly hear that idiot who
was screaming for "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida!" and Roger
Daltrey's microphone huffing on "Baba O'Reilly" (one
of the few recording errors that makes it seem "live,"
along with cable buzzing and 60-cycle hums) and
Townsend's humble aside, "We haven't been here for a
very, very, very long time, and it's great to be

The memorable moments pile up: the crowd singing along
on the phrase "It's only teenage wasteland!" and the
satisfying twinkle of the acoustic guitar playing
minor chords on "Behind Blue Eyes" and someone in the
audience chanting "Go get 'em, Pete!" and the great
sustain and tone on Townsend's guitar on "Love Reign
O'er Me" as well as his swoopy guitar phrases and
thoughtful dynamics on "Real Good-Looking Boy," one of
the new songs.

They play with explosive power and vented angst, and
that has not changed. 

>From the moment Pete Townsend power-chorded E/DD/A/EE
and lit the fuse on "I Can't Explain," it was a
memorable evening. Thanks to new technology, we get to
relive it.

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!

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