The night was November 20, 1975, and The Who were just beginning its American tour to promote their By Numbers album. They were certainly at their peak. The controversial Ken Russell film version of Tommy was in theatres, they had followed up Quadrophenia with the mature By Numbers, and Keith Moon was healthy. Having been together for a decade at that point, the band were as tight as they would ever be. For nearly two hours, the newly unearthed concert DVD The Who Live in Texas ‘75 captures the band in all their glory at The Summit in Houston.
The concert covers all periods in the band’s history up to that point, from their pilled-up Mod days to Pete Townshend’s middle-aged lament “However Much I Booze,” from By Numbers. They open with “Substitute” and immediately show why they were so revered as a live act. Each member is riveting, whether it is the windmill guitar playing of Townshend, the microphone antics of Roger Daltrey, the sheer musicianship of John Entwistle, or the mania of Moon, it is hard to stay focused on anyone for long.
The Who became a “serious” band with the rock opera Tommy, and they performed a 10-song medley from it on the tour. “Pinball Wizard” and “Acid Queen” are great, but it is during “Sparks” when I really sat up and took notice. The bass runs that Entwistle plays are truly magnificent, as is Moon’s incredible drumming.
After the Tommy songs, the group hit some live favorites, including “Summertime Blues,” “My Generation,” Join Together,” and “Roadrunner.” An absolutely smoking version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” closes out the set, with Daltrey hitting a triumphant scream at the climax. They are called back for a hot version of “Magic Bus” and finally a reprise of “My Generation,” titled “My Generation Blues.”
It was a strong start to what would prove to be one of the best tours of the band’s career. There were big changes around the corner for The Who, as Keith Moon would pass just three years after this show was recorded. The concert has previously been available only as a muddy bootleg, but The Who Live in Texas ‘75 has been restored by longtime Who collaborator Jon Astley, who has done a magnificent job with it, both the sound and the picture quality are excellent. The DVD runs 117 minutes long, with no bonus features.