Perhaps one of the most famous performances of The Who, this 1970 concert took place during the last Isle of Wight Festival. With a mesmerizing two-part set, The Who blew the audience away with a heavy mixture of their older hits as well as the performance of “Tommy” in its entirety. With the 1970 festival being one of the absolute strongest ever of the Isle of Wight, it’s no wonder that The Who’s performance, considered one of the best (if not the best) concerts to ever come out of the Isle of Wight Festival.
At 2am on August 30th, 1970, The Who appeared on stage at the Isle of Wight Festival in front of an estimated 600,000 people and gave one of the most memorable concerts of their career. The show, filmed by Academy Award winning director Murray Lerner, has been restored from the original negative to the highest possible quality for this Blu-ray release. The sound has been remixed from the original 8 track tapes under the personal supervision of Pete Townshend. The 85 minute performance is supplemented by a 40 minute interview with Pete Townshend and two tracks cut from the original film.
My knowledge of The Who has never been anything great; I knew of them, of course (who hasn’t) and it wasn’t until watching this concert did I drum up some childhood memories regarding them. Tommy was a CD that my brother, sister and I would listen to and sing along in mock performance; the CD was so long that it lent itself easy to that type of scenario. In fact, just thinking about it made me realize how lame and goofy it was (good thing we didn’t have a camcorder back then). Still, watching them perform it live in its entirety really was probably one of the coolest things that came out of seeing this concert.
Granted this concert has been available in the past on both CD, VHS and DVD, but this is the first time that fans will be able to see it in full HD glory, thanks to Eagle Rock HD Entertainment. For the most part I haven’t been a big fan of any of the acts that Eagle Rock has put out on Blu-ray (except Korn, whose release I actually found the least exciting…go figure), yet after watching these concerts I’m immediately blown away by their quality. Considering they’re often seminal or legendary bands doesn’t hurt matters any, but with this The Who concert especially, I was really just astonished by how…well, awesome they were.
There’s not a whole lot to discuss about a concert that’s nearly forty years old. It’s gone down in history as one of the best for good reason: it is pretty much flawless. A brilliant band performing at their peak and surrounded by a cheering crowd, The Who’s performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 really is something to behold. Highly Recommended.
With a recent DVD release in 2004, this Blu-ray edition is nothing that fans haven’t seen before in terms of content, although the presentation is wholly different. I do question why Eagle Rock opted to bring the concert, shot on film, to Blu-ray in 1080i though; not that the differences between that and a 1080p transfer would have been that obvious (it is nearly 40 years after all), but it’s still kind of strange. The transfer itself is solid, with surprisingly great colors, although detail is a bit less than what you’d get from modern productions (but…again, 40 years). The audio comes in a couple varieties, including LPCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, and DTS-HD Master Audio. Of course the DTS-HD track is going to take precedent over the other two and it sounds absolutely fantastic. A really good live-mix that really sounds as if you’re at the concert itself. The track listing is as follows:
Heaven and Hell
I Can’t Explain
Young Man Blues
I Don’t Even Know Myself
Shakin’ All Over / Spoonful / Twist and Shout
It’s a Boy
Eyesight to the Blind (The Hawker)
The Acid Queen
Do You Think It’s Alright?
Go to the Mirror
We’re Not Gonna Take It
See Me Feel Me / Listening to You
Tommy Can You Hear Me?
Extra’s include a forty minute interview with Pete Townshend, which talks all about the concert itself and the legacy it left behind. That’s really the only bonus (although the Bonus Tracks are technically a bonus as well, since they weren’t originally included in the original VHS/DVD release).
Overall it’s a solid release, plenty to listen to and the interview itself is well worth checking out for fans of The Who. Highly Recommended.
The Who’s Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 arrives on Blu-ray on February 24th.