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THE WHO: THE VEGAS JOB

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  The Who:  Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, John Entwistle, Zack Starkey,
John Bundrick
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video:  Color Full screen
Studio:  Passport Entertainment
Features:  See Review
Length:  115 Minutes
Release Date:  November 7, 2006

"My love is vengeance that is never free."

Concert ***

It is strange to look at the music charts these days and see so few acts from England anymore.  In the 1960's of course they practically took over rock music, and their influence lasted well into the 1970's at least in the hard rock and metal genres.  Then in the 1980's of course the second wave hit.

Everyone knows that despite their short live performance career, The Beatles changed everything, but there is great controversy over the second biggest British band.  The Rolling Stones always called themselves The Greatest Rock 'n Roll Band in the World, but as the saying goes, don't EVER say that to a fan of the Who.  Don't say it to me, either!

They are practically the only rock band other than the Beatles or the Stones that most classic rock fans can name each member of or recognize from a picture.   Roger Daltrey has always possessed a stronger voice than Jagger and all of the Beatles put together.  Pete Townsend invented windmill chops and the power chord, John Entwistle was to his dying day one of the funkiest and strongest bassists ever, and of course the late great Keith Moon was the craziest drummer ever.  Together they created so many anthems of rock that it is hard to know where to begin.  Townsend's compositional masterpieces, Tommy, Quadrophenia, and Who's Next are four discs' worth of music whose melodic heaviness is matched with lyrics which illustrate the never-ending search for identity in the modern world.

This October 29, 1999 concert is significant for many reasons.  It is the first concert in about twenty years that featured only Daltrey, Townsend, Entwistle, a drummer (Ringo Starr's son Zach Starkey), and perennial keyboardist John Bundrick as the traditional fifth member, instead of the usual backup singers and horns.  The energy is incredible, and while overall it is not as good as the Live at Albert Hall set, which is possibly the best concert ever released on DVD to date, it is still a great show.  It is a shorter show, the sound quality is not as good, but the most interesting point is that the show was supposed to be a netcast to an audience of a billion or so people.  Due to technical problems, it did not happen, and the show was "lost" until now.

Pete has lost none of his swagger, Daltrey can still hit the high notes, Entwistle has a funky solo on 5:15 which is just amazing, funky, and very musical without being too showy, and Zach Starkey's snare on Who Are You shows that he is more than ready to hold down the beat for such a heavy band. Daltrey completely loses his place in Who Are You but somehow pulls it off anyway.  Then they launch into a modern, heavy version of Magic Bus which is fun.

My one big complaint is that at least in this screener, the chapters are useless.  The menu does not have a songlist, and going from chapter to chapter lands you randomly in the middle of songs, so you are more or less forced to watch the whole thing all the way through instead of going to the songs you want.  Hopefully the actual release does not have this problem, but...you have been warned.

Set List:  I Can't Explain, Substitute, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, Pinball Wizard, See Me, Feel Me, Baba O'Riley, My Wife, 5:15, Behind Blue Eyes, Who Are You, Magic Bus, Won't Get Fooled Again, The Kids Are Alright, My Generation

Video ***

No complaints here really, the picture is slightly washed out here and there, and it is only full and not wide screen, and not as good as more recent productions, but still fine for a concert.

Audio  ***1/2

A pretty good mix, but no DTS, you can hear everything and the band is in great form.  Not as good as the Royal Albert Hall, but then, that remains my gold standard.  There is the occasional feedback, and the sound is not as crisp as more modern productions.

Features **

Interviews with Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle, and yes, the audience. Entiwistle is hard to understand because the interview was done backstage and there is a lot of racket everywhere.    And the audience talks about how much they love the Who...well for the internet it might have seemed cool, but in this form it is just kind of amusing.  Though actually they are more entertaining than the band, believe it or not.

Summary

So who is my pick for the best live rock band ever?  Oh it's hard to pick.  But The Who held it down for more than three decades, so I say the Kids are Still Alright.

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