The Who's "Other" Rock Opera Survives in Fine Form

Roger Daltrey and Pete Towshend on the "Quadrophenia and More" tour.

The Who: Quadrophenia Live in London
Universal CD/DVD, various formats and prices

While it is not their most famous rock opera -- that would be the one with a certain deaf, dumb and blind boy, Pinball Wizard, Acid Queen and good ol' Uncle Ernie -- the Who's Quadrophenia is in many ways the superior work.

In an nutshell, the 1973 double LP told the story of Jimmy, a teen living in mid-'60s London, as he deals with his peers, parents, girlfriend, Mod lifestyle, the cusp of manhood, disillusionment, possible suicide and his future all while suffering from a form of schizophrenia. Composer Pete Townshend imbues Jimmy's condition with personality traits from all four members of the Who, thus the "quadrophenia" of the title.

This DVD captures the closing night of the band's 2012-13 "Quadrophenia and More" tour at London's Wembley Arena with original members Townshend (vocals/guitar) and Roger Daltrey (vocals/harmonica), along with Pino Palladino (bass), Scott Devours (drums), Loren Gold (keyboards), Simon Townshend (rhythm guitar) and a backing horn/keyboard section.

Taking a lead from the full-throttle energy of the pensioner-aged Townshend and Daltrey, this is not a dinosaur act going through the paces.

All 17 tracks of Quadrophenia are tackled in order. And while "5:15" and "Love Reign O'er Me" are the two best-known numbers, familiar to two generations of FM radio listeners, it's on the deeper cuts that the band really shines.

From Simon Townshend's vocal turn on "The Dirty Jobs" and the Pete/Roger interplay on "Is It In My Head?" to "Cut My Hair" and "Drowned," the group clearly relished digging a bit deeper into their normal concert catalog. And the sound and video quality are top-notch.

Large video screens behind the band effectively use both news and old Who footage to move the story along throughout. During penultimate instrumental number "The Rock," the screens showcase world events that have taken place since the original album's release, with some pointed social and political commentary.

Story continues on the next page.

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"Quadrophenia" has always been one of my favorite Who efforts. I wish I could have seen them tour with this show back in the 70's, but this film does capture it quite well. Even though only Townshend & Daltrey remain, this lineup does an excellent job with a lead guitarist filling in for the layered sounds Townshend can not perform in concert. What I liked most were film clips projected behind the band of scenes from the movie, as well as Keith Moon wailing away. I still enjoy the movie, the movie soundtrack, & the original album. Any Who fan will enjoy this, too..

JD Betz
JD Betz

Uh yeah, a Quadrophenia stop would be ridiculous.

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