The Blu-ray of Live...1970 marks its fifth entry into the home video market after a previous VHS release and three DVD releases, the last of which was the 2006 DVD reviewed here.
Capturing The Who at the height of its power, Academy Award-winning documentarian Murray Lerner and his team recorded the band at 2am on August 30th, 1970 to an enthusiastic crowd estimated at 600,000. Although not presented in its proper order, the 85-minute set reveals why the band is held in such high regard among rock aficionados and why all four excelled at their respective roles. Although the least flamboyant of the quartet, I would have preferred more coverage of bassist John Entwistle’s hands as he worked his magic.
The audio is massive and demonstrates both the power of The Who and Blu-ray to drive the parents and the neighbors crazy. Right from the start, the viewer is engulfed in the sound as the audience fills the surround speakers. Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon give the subwoofer an impressive workout, which may leave it a smoldering wreck. The upgrade to DTS HD Master Audio and even the LPCM Stereo are more impressive than the 2006 release, giving the band a fuller sound and separating them, creating a sense of their placement on stage with Entwistle dominating the left, guitarist Pete Townshend dominating the right, and Moon and singer Roger Daltrey dominating the center. The Dolby Digital 5.1 has been mixed quite a bit lower than the rest.
Not much has been done to augment the picture in high definition. Presented in 1080i Widescreen 16x9 1.78.1, the image shows a lot of grain. It looks to be caused by some combination of the limits of the film cameras and film stock trying to record the performance that was lit for a rock concert as opposed to a movie. There are also rare instances of dirt. Compared to the 2006 DVD played on a Blu-ray player, the video quality is similar. However during “Heaven and Hell,” when band members were shot from the side with the dark night sky as the background causing Daltry and Entwistle to be lost in the shadows, the image was manipulated with brightness to bring them out. This caused some blacks to get a unnatural bluish tint.