Weekend Concert: the Who at Tanglewood, 1970

I am beginning my run as iBrattleboro Weekend Concertmaster with the group that got me hooked on rock n’ roll: the Who.

What these guys brought to the music that I loved and still love is a passion and energy that borders on insanity. Watch Keith Moon play the drums or Pete Townsend attack his guitar. At the same time they have fun with the music. The alacrity with which they pull out of bone crushing riffs into quiet, even delicate guitar passages and back to full roar has always been a strength of their music and that ability is on display here.

This concert is from the Who’s Tommy period. In February, 1970 they had recorded a show at the University of Leeds in England which in May became Live at Leeds, one of the best live albums ever made. This concert is essentially the same set and tour.

This concert video is presented in 20 parts which breaks the viewing flow somewhat. Also (on the downside) the HD becomes LD (Low Definition) about half way through. Given that this is a 42 year old concert and it has a lot of Keith Moon being his crazy self, I can put up with the video foibles. I hope that some of you can too.

On the plus side (in addition to Moon) you get nearly the entire Tommy rock opera start to finish. This is the last time they performed it on stage as a whole with Keith Moon. The next time they toured widely was post Who’s Next in late 1971 and Tommy was largely absent from the set at that point.

Warning: this concert contains one of the worst songs ever performed (imo) – Water. 3rd song in and it goes over 9 minutes – skip it. The amazing thing is that this was the only song from the Lifehouse project to be played in this set & tour. Lifehouse was eventually boiled down to yield the Who’s best album, Who’s Next. While the video may be despicable at times, the audio is pretty solid and worth it to watch the bands goofy ferocity.


Comments | 6

  • Woodstock

    I should add that this is largely the same set they played at Woodstock, the year before. No wonder they were sick of it!

    • I was there!

      In the late 60s and early 70s I lived with my folks in Lenox, worked at Tanglewood, and had free passes to every concert. In my teens and early 20s I took it as normal that summers meant classical music every weekend and rock and roll every Tuesday at Tanglewood, plus every Sunday afternoon “emerging artists” like Bonnie Raitt, John McLaughlin, and David Bowie at the Lenox Arts Center. (With ticket prices as they are now, I have not been to a live concert in a decade or more.)

      Some of the concerts were a blur (due in part to my condition during the shows) but I sure remember this one. First time I saw a guitar destroyed on stage, the light show was incredible, and it was evident to even one as spoiled as I was by excellent music that they were incredible musicians. Plus Pete Townsend and I share a birthday!

      • wow!

        That’s very cool.
        It’s neat that they were just down the road from us. I was not yet the Who fan I became and would not have known they were even there in any case.
        I wish I had seen them then, though. What a memory that would be.

        The concert I originally sent Chris was the Who’s appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. They were the final act on a bill that included the Doors, Jimi Hendrix (his last appearance before his death), Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson and about a dozen big name groups of the day.

        BUT the link didn’t work.
        After some digging I stumbled upon this one instead and I’m glad I did.

  • Blast From The Past

    Thanks for that, a very pleasent Sunday morning musical Trip!
    I still have my original “Live at Leeds” in the plain cardboard cover, with all the receipts and poster inside. Those were the days, I drove my Mother nuts, as the living room Dansette record player was set to 10 flat out and still not loud enough for me. I agree, probably the greatest live recording ever.
    I later had the great pleasure of working with Pete Townsend in 1979 on his solo album “Empty Glass”. Not quite the wild days with Moon but a really remarkable experience.

    • What!!!

      That’s outrageous!
      I’m incredibly jealous.
      Not that I’d want to have to work with Townsend. My sense is he has sharp elbows when it comes to his music.
      I really liked Empty Glass – the song a Little is Enough is one of my favorites of his and of all time, really. Do you have any memories of recording that that you would care to share?

      • Yay! The Who!!!!!

        Thank you Paul. You know how I love Keith Moon and he’s his own invention at full tilt here.

Leave a Reply