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The Who - Tommy and Quadrophenia Live
The Who - Tommy and Quadrophenia Live
Actors: Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Elton John, Patti LaBelle, Simon Phillips
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
NR     2005     4hr 0min

Rhino Records is proud to present a 3-DVD boxed set showcasing one of the greatest live bands ever-The Who. Disc one features a live rendition of their full-blown rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy. Tommy was per...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Elton John, Patti LaBelle, Simon Phillips
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Pop, Rock & Roll, The Who, John, Elton, Classic Rock
Studio: Rhino / Wea
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 11/08/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 4hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: German, English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Not Perfect, but Still Excellent
Thomas D. Ryan | New York | 11/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In my lifetime - hell, probably in ALL time - no band has come out of retirement more often than the Who. After Keith Moon's death, it appeared to be over, until Kenny Jones filled the drum slot for a few years. Bandleader songwriter/guitarist Pete Townshend had developing doubts that the Who were still the proper outlet for his songwriting, and in the late `80s, the band announced its dissolution, punctuated with a `farewell tour'. Anyone who attended any of those shows believing that it would be the band's last hurrah - as advertised - might be somewhat bitter about the experience now. Since then, the Who have been revived more often than patients in a cardiac ward.
Both performances featured on this DVD set are taken from tours posthumous to the band's breakup, so it is understandable if more than a few fans are cynical about this package, but the truth is that it is better than they might expect. Granted, this isn't the classic Who (they ceased to exist with the death of Keith Moon in 1978), but it is classic Who material, and most of it is performed quite brilliantly here. The performance of `Tommy' takes place in Los Angeles in 1989 and at the time, it was quite a special event. A star-studded affair, with guests ranging from Billy Idol, Phil Collins, Patti LaBelle, Steve Winwood and Elton John, the entire performance was televised live. At the time I was ready, and I taped the entire performance on my Sony Betamax (which was dated even then!). I thought the performance was absolutely excellent, and I still have that copy today, although this well-produced DVD makes it even more obsolete than it already has been. The band (which is aided by a plethora of additional musicians, with special praise due to drummer Simon Phillips) is nearly flawless, with the only `unfortunate' thing being the `80s fashion sense (Townshend with a pony-tail?), but who really cares about that now anyway?
The `Quadrophenia' disk is from a later date, compiled from the "Quadrophenia' tour of 1996-97. Coincidentally, I was also familiar with this piece of history, having seen the show at New York's Madison Square Garden. At the time, I was a bit disappointed. "Quadrophenia' is my favorite Who album, and the band performed more than admirably enough (special credit to drummer Zak Starkey), but the film footage that allegedly `connected' the songs did more to damage the rock and roll energy than to aid the story. Furthermore, the special guests detracted from the performance, with Billy Idol and PJ Proby making somewhat embarrassing cameo appearances. On DVD, though, the clever editing resolves the problem as I remembered it, and the pace is consistent.
Perhaps the best feature of this DVD is the special commentary from Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. By choosing a second `camera angle', they both appear onscreen, hovering over the concert footage like disembodied spirits. They speak candidly about the details of each event, and getting their insight and perspective while watching the concert is priceless. A third disk contains all of the `encore' footage from both shows, making this a well-rounded package of the band's latter-day performances, as well as an excellent documentary on one of the world's most important rock and roll bands. A- Tom Ryan"
Great Content, Horrible Production
Terence Dollard | Hauppauge, NY United States | 11/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"To say I'm a Who fanatic would be an understatement. I still have the 1989 Tommy performance from when it aired on Pay-Per-View. I can tell you the Quadrophenia show was from the Who's second trip to NYC on their tour, because the band has been pared down from their first shows. And I was at the 1989 Giants Stadium shows included on the disc. I know, I need help.

The folks at Rhino need some help too. My copy has a ton of glitches, like freezing whenever a new song starts, or switching to 2.1 from 5.1 on its own or doing things DVDs fresh out of the box shouldn't do. I'm hoping my copy is not endemic of Rhino's production standards.

And on a content note, I'm getting tired of new Who products that bury John Entwistle in the mix. I understand that the Quad show audio is taken from front of house audio, but not hearing Entiwistle play the songs that defined him as an artist is disappointing. It doesn't matter if it captures his signature tone if you can't hear it. It would also be nice to see him more than during his extended solos."
The Who - Tommy vs. Jimmy
Gerald Heffner | Pennsylvania | 11/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The DVD "Tommy and Quadrophenia Live" is not necessarily a concert DVD. For a concert DVD from the Who one would look towards "Live at the Isle of Wight" or the 2000 show from the Royal Albert Hall, or the recently released "Live in Boston." This collection of performances is better described as the MUSIC of the Who ... played by the Who, if that makes any sense.

Purists will argue that these two concerts do not capture the raw, agressive power of the Who as a live band. Rather, these concerts showcase the power of the Who's music and the stories they tell. Quadrophenia in particular is a masterful marriage of a band on stage, live-action performance, and pre-recorded imagery on a large screen behind the stage. Throughout it all, the music stands out leading the narrative.

A word of warning that must be re-iterated, this is not a typical Who concert. The band does not perform as a four or five piece. Each concert includes several backing singers, extra guitars, and a brass section. This is a celebration foremost of the narratives of Pete Townshend, gloriously realized by a bevy of extremely talented musicians including the surviving Who members. If you're looking for the gnashing, snarling, loud Who, you won't find *much* of it hear, though there is some.

DISC 1 - Tommy, 1989

This concert came at the end of a 25th anniversary tour that the Who had undertaken. Special guests include Steve Winwood playing the part of the Hawker, Patti LaBelle as the Acid Queen, Elton John reprising his film role as the Pinball Wizard, Billy Idol as Cousin Kevin, and Phil Collins as Uncle Ernie.

The entire breadth of Tommy is covered in this performance with the exception of "Underture" and "Welcome." The inclusion of guest artists is a refreshing take on the piece. There are plenty of musings and anecdotes included in the DVD commentary about each one, but Patti LaBelle bears special mention. Her performance of the Acid Queen is stunning.

The production of the show is lavish. Lighting is bright and colorful, much like the participating acts. The added musicians are stellar in their own right. Simon Phillips, filling in on drums defies the odds and makes the percussion of the opera his own. Viewers familiar with the Who will notice Pete plays acoustic guitar for the length of the show which is a derivation from previous tours. (Pete has mentioned he much prefers playing acoustic though his prowess has been rather unfairly called into question on some occasions.) Guitarist Steve Bolton fills in for Pete's riffs and lead lines in fine style.

The Tommy concert is a charity event and in one viewing you can get the sense that this isn't what the Who is all about. It was a one-off show that sounds great and the acts are all wonderful, but the spirit of Tommy might not be there in all the right places. In the included commentary Pete and Roger talk about Tommy as a story and all its ideological and moral implications and little about the actual performance. It seems to me, at least, that the show at the LA Spectrum was really a gala stage event rather than a serious performance of a meaningful piece of music.

This does not, however, prevent it from being monstrously entertaining. The sound of the band is top-notch and there are some genuinely blissful moments, such as the finale where all the band and guests return to the stage to chant "Listening to You." And of course seeing Phil Collins fill the role of Uncle Ernie is alone worth the price of admission.

DISC 2 - Quadrophenia, 1996

If Tommy was the "bells and whistles" show, Quadrophenia strips things down to the root of the music. True, there is still an array of added talent (brass, guitars, keyboards, percussion) and the concert becomes a multimedia event with video interludes between the songs telling the Quadrophenia story, and "actors" on stage playing roles, but the music and the message of the narrative comes crashing through much more solidly than Tommy had accomplished.

Roger Daltrey is to thank for this performance, one of which has been greatly desired by Who fans for years. He took Quadrophenia, a somewhat cerebral and narratively incomplete work and gave it form and fluidity. The story of Jimmy is here expanded through the use of pre-recorded film that plays on a giant screen behind the stage. The actor portraying Jimmy (Alex Langdon) does a stellar job. Some footage from the 1979 "Quadrophenia" movie is used, and the entire length of the namesake song consists of newsreels of the time period in which the piece is set including such things as rationing programs after World War II, the genearl sense of despair in the world, atomic power, John F. Kennedy, Elvis, the Beatles, etc.

All this sets up a very cohesive multimedia event that no doubt would have been better to see live. The DVD still delivers a standout performance, however. Guests on this act include Billy Idol as the Ace Face. The "Bell Boy" sequence is flawless and the sneering punk icon manages to channel some of the late, great Keith Moon's whimsy into his performance. Also appearing is P.J. Proby as the rocking Godfather who adds an extremely tongue-in-cheek performance playing the wizened, past-his-prime rock star ... irony being he actually WAS past his prime.

Of special note are both Zak Starkey on drums (Ringo's son) and Roger Daltrey himself. Zak was schooled at an early age by Keith Moon and his youth and energy manages to capture some of the spark that Moonie brought to the band. Zak has toured with the Who ever since and hopefully will again. Roger is in a transitional period with his voice at this concert. He no longer has the range of notes he had several years earlier at the Tommy gig, but he has not yet passed completely into the "new" voice that he carries in the Royal Albert Hall and Boston shows. He manages to thunder his way through all the material, though it does sound like its a great strain for him in some occasions.

Also, in the accopmanying commentary, Pete seems to have more to say about Quadrophenia than Roger. This should come as no surprise as many fans will realize Pete likes to talk, and they are, after all, HIS stories. There is also a "Story of Quadrophenia" short detailing the production of the 1996-97 stage show. This runs about ten minutes.

DISC 3 - Encores

The third disc contains the encores from both shows. The Tommy encore here contains something you won't easily find in another package. Along with several well-known hits, including a delightfully refreshing "I Can See For Miles," Pete manages to squeeze in some of his own solo material. It is, to my knowledge, the only time he's gotten away with it. =D Roger sings "Dig" during the encore which prompts a nice on-stage "Thanks Roge..." from Pete.

The Quadrophenia encore features a greatest hits selection which curiously enough starts off acoustic. The encore would be shortened or extended depending on the "mood" of the band after the marathon Quadrophenia run. During one of the shows Roger was struggling with laryngitis and was forced to leave the stage immediately after the finale of Quadrophenia leaving Pete to tackle the encore solo. The songs contained here are solid.

Finally there are also three songs from the 1989 Giants Stadium show which include a few selections from Tommy as well as "A Litte is Enough." The DVD extra here is an interview with Billy Idol, the only guest artist to appear in both the Tommy and Quadrophenia shows.


I'm a die-hard Who fan and as such I'll buy anything with the band's name on it. However, I knew what to expect from this DVD. If you can accept it for what it is: the MUSIC and not the BAND, then you'll definately find more than your money's worth. If the performances themselves weren't enough, there are visual commentaries with Roger and Pete available to accompany them in which they both share a wealth of anecdotes and information on the two pieces of music.

My sole complaint(s) about the DVD is that John's bass is, as always, mixed a few notches too low. The man is a genius, give him some volume. Aside from that the sound is stellar on both recordings, especially when done justice in 5.1. Finally, viewers of the commentary will know where I'm coming from with this.

Pete ... what's with that shirt?"
10 stars for Quadrophenia
Alias | Deluth | 01/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD obviously contains The Who, or what's left of the Who, performing their rock 'n roll masterpieces "Tommy" in 1989, and "Quadrphenia" in 1997. While it may not be the orginal Who these concerts, especially "Quad", are AMAZING!
The "Tommy" performance admittingly is not The Who at their peak, but that's not really expected is it? It's 3 warhorses who've weathered the challenges of the true rock 'n roll experience and are now soaking in one of their greatest achievements with "Tommy" the deaf, dumb & blind boy and his quest for salvation and enlightment within himself as well as peace with the world that has done him harm. This performance is tight and "big band" sounding w/ guest stars (Steve Winwood, Elton John, Patti Labelle, Billy Idol), but it really fits the operatic feeling of the source material. It's really a good version of the piece actually when you give the band credit for what it actually is at this time in their careers. Entwistle still smokes on the bass and Daltrey still has his olympian voice, but Townshend, due to an effort to save his hearing, regulates himself to an acoustic guitar. All in all a pretty fine concert.
It's the 1997 "Quadrophenia" here that's really something special. The band is in another place musically and mentally and they deliver a seriously rocking version of their 1973 classic. Quadrophenia deals w/ a young mod, Jimmy, and his frustrations that come w/ being a troubled adolescent who is disillusioned w/ his parents, his heroes, girls and everything else that plagues adolescents during their time of self-discovery. He suffers from 4 split personalities, each symbolic of the identities of the orginal Who. In this performance the band is joined by the second coming of Keith Moon himself, Zak Starky (Ringo Starr's son), and taking over lead guitar is Simon Townshend (Pete's kid brother/clone). The footage however is not just the band's performance, but is edited as a multi-media event where images of the original Who (w/ some special nods to Keith Moon), vintage clips of Mods and Rockers, and narration by the lead character appear on the large screen behind the band in-between songs for an experience of the story like none other. Don't worry though, the band is shown pretty much in full performance and the narration does not drag down the pace as someone else said. The only two songs the band is not shown at all are on the two instrumental songs from the album, "Quadrophenia" and "The Rock." It's amazing though b/c it really sets the mood for the whole concert by showing vintage footage of events that build up the emotional impact of the story. It's just amazing! It's the best rendition of "Quadrophenia" period. The band's performance just flat out ROCKS!!!!! I can't get over what a powerful performance this is by everyone involved. Billy Idol plays the "Ace Face" mod who squares off against British actor P.J. Proby, "The Godfather" an old rocker who symbolizes an Elvis Presley type w/ an actual edge. These two are simply brilliant! Entwistle yet again is unbelievable, Daltrey is in better shape both physically and vocally, Zak Starky pounds those drums like a man on a mission, and Pete does some searing vocals and great acoustic work. He finally picks up his electric guitar for the finale and he explodes. His brother Simon was also fantastic on guitar. It was really cool to hear him sing lead on "The Dirty Jobs," he sounds just like Pete and when the two brothers sing together it's even more cool. This is just an awesome experience no matter which way you cut it. NOBODY does it like this anymore!
There's also a third disc of encores from these shows that I haven't watched all of yet. Each encore fits the mood of the respective show, so it's good stuff.
This is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all WHO fans & those who love Rock as an art form. The "Tommy" is pretty good, but it's the definitive performance of QUADROPHENIA that makes this set a must have!!!
"Rock is dead, long live rock"-Pete Townshend"