BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Arriving on the heels of Tommy, arguably the most fully-realized album the Who ever produced, Quadrophenia never quite garnered the immediate appeal achieved by its predecessor. Yet, while it may have lacked the ready refrains and a storyline that provided the hit potential for stage and screen, Quadrophenia is, in retrospect, Pete Townshend’s most ambitious masterpiece, a work of truly epic proportions that far surpassed any of his efforts before or since.
Consequently, the band’s decision to take it on tour in 2012 was not only challenging, but rather daring as well. And yet, as evidenced by this multi-format recording of its London homecoming, the band pulled it off brilliantly, leaving no detail unattended. (During 1996-97 The Who had also toured the album, but not quite this extensively and nowhere near as elaborate a stage production.) Townshend, Daltrey and musical director Frank Simes effectively recreated every nuance in the original arrangements, even to the point of syncing their live performance with archival videos of the Keith Moon and John Entwistle performing their parts as well. It’s an eerie juxtaposition, but seeing Daltrey looking on with admiration as Moon mouths “Bellboy,” the poignancy is all too obvious. Video images detailing society’s evolution since the Second World War along with film clips of the youthful Who affirm an anthemic resilience borne through songs such as “5:15,” “Drowned,” “Doctor Jimmy” and the final searing strains of “Love Reign O’er Me,” each an incisive element in this stunning set of songs.
Bonus performances of various Who classics enhance the spectacle, helping to make Quadrophenia Live In London an obviously essential acquisition for Who fans and novices alike.
DOWNLOAD: “5:15,” “Drowned,” “Love Reign O’er Me,”