The Who At Kilburn 1977 is, for a variety of reasons, a must-see, must-have DVD for Who fans.
It captures the Who at a time when they were arguably the greatest live rock and roll band in the world — and certainly at a time when they were at their commercial peak. It also shows exactly how and why they earned that well deserved reputation.
That said, this is not the ultimate document of the live Who experience. So color me picky.
For that, you'd have to rewind back a few years to 1970, and the amazing performances captured on both the live Isle of Wight 1970 DVD, and especially The Who Live At Leeds, which is simply one of, if not the best live rock and roll albums ever made. That much goes without saying.
With that in mind, The Who At Kilburn 1977 is still damn great stuff.
The concert, parts of which eventually made way to the documentary film The Kids Are Alright, is shown here in its entirety for the first time on an official release, and also represents one of the final Who shows with drummer Keith Moon just before his untimely death. For that reason alone, The Who At Kilburn 1977 is an essential release for Who Fans.
Like everything else here, the video and 5.1 audio restoration are first rate, particularly when the time period is taken into account. What separates the actual performance from something as jaw-droppingly amazing as the recently remastered Isle Of Wight DVD is the simple fact that by the 1977 time-frame of this show, the Who had become such a polished act in comparison.
What makes the performances from the 1969-70 period captured on Isle of Wight and especially Live At Leeds such a revelation is their sheer, raw and unbridled energy — even when the Who are trying out the more sophisticated songs from Tommy for the first time. Even though everything ultimately fits together — from John Entwhistle's intricate bass runs to Moon's over-the-top drumming — there is still that sense that the train could derail at any moment.
Not so on The Who At Kilburn 1977.
By this time, thanks to the commercial success of albums like Whos Next, The Who had become a well oiled machine in concert. As such, songs like "Won't Get Fooled Again" as performed in concert are letter perfect, close to the record versions. Meanwhile, songs like "My Generation," which formerly served as launchpads for extended improvisational craziness, are likewise played very close to the vest here.
Keith Moon alone maintains that element of unhinged dangerousness here that once made the Who the greatest live rock and roll band in the world. And they are still heads and shoulders above everyone else here. But you can also start to see that where once there was the sort of chaos that would influence a generation of punk rock bands like the Clash, the polish was starting to settle in.
Interestingly, the bonus disc on Kilburn features previously unseen footage from roughly the same 1969 period as Leeds and Isle Of Wight, featuring some of the earliest performances of the Tommy material. Both the sound and video here vary wildly from decent to barely above that of a bad bootleg. Still, the performances here are good and often great. From an fan's archival standpoint, they are also essential.
The Who At Kilburn 1977 isn't perfect, but comes close enough to make this DVD a must for Who fans. It comes out in stores on November 18.