Live In London
There is, arguably, no other album in the Who's discography that divides fans' opinions more than 1973's Quadrophenia. For some, it's their greatest artistic statement, finally accomplishing what Pete Townshend had been trying to attain with the rock opera format for years; while for others it's the moment the band officially jumped the shark, delivering an over-the-top product of a band in the studio gone mad with power. In celebration of the double album's 40th anniversary in 2013, the Who played the album live in full. For 2014, they have Quadrophenia: Live in London, a double live album from their final night of the 2013 tour at London's Wembley Arena.
The album is released in conjunction with a concert film released on Blu-Ray and DVD, as well as a five-disc box set. which comes with, for the first time, a 5.1 Surround Sound mix of the entire original album on Blu-Ray along with a bunch of other goodies. Essentially, it's all the hi-fi and frills to your heart's content. The live recording represents and marks a recent trend amongst classic rock bands: playing one of their most famous albums in concert, a practice criticized by some. The album also poses the problem raised constantly of whether the Who are long past their prime.
On paper it does make sense, because it's unthinkable for the band to recapture the magic of their early years, and only Roger Daltrey and Townshend are still around. However, if anything, the band has proven with this release that they still have a lot to give, still holding onto the title of one of rock's greatest and most powerful forces to be reckoned with. Daltrey's voice is still in surprisingly fine form, roaring through "The Real Me" and howling on "Sea and Sand." Townsend's solos are still just as sharp and blistering as ever, if not even more refined.
Fans of the album may be wondering what they did in the instances on the original album where John Entwistle and Keith Moon played a major role. Well, they used them. Like the trend of holograms bringing back musicians from the dead, the ethics of this are questionable, but playing back an Entwistle bass solo on "5:15" and Moon's vocals on "Bell Boy" are fitting, beautiful tributes to one of rock's greatest rhythm sections, showing that they are not forgotten.
If you're a fair-weather fan of Quadrophenia, a stunning encore is provided, featuring classics like "Who Are You," "Pinball Wizard," "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." Closing the album is the simple "Tea & Theatre" from the 2006 studio album, Endless Wire. Quadrophenia: Live in London is a true testament to the beauty, power, energy, and heart behind a band still better than almost anyone else out touring today.
~ Cody Alexander