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The Who – Chicago 1979 Definitive Version (Wardour DVD Series 001)

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Chicago 1979 Definitive Version (Wardour DVD Series 001)

International Amphitheater, Chicago, IL – December 8th, 1979

Intro, Substitute, I Can’t Explain, Baba O’ Riley, The Punk And The Godfather, My Wife, Sister Disco, Behind Blue Eyes, Music Must Change, Drowned, Who Are You, 5:15, Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me, Long Live Rock, My Generation, I Can See For Miles, Sparks, Won’t Get Fooled Again, applause, The Real Me, Dancing In The Streets, Dance It Away, Young Man Blues, Roadrunner, Big Boss Man, How Can You Do It Alone

Bonus CD: Long Live Rock (Wardour-026):  Disc 1:  Substitute, I Can’t Explain, Baba O’ Riley, The Punk And The Godfather, My Wife, Sister Disco, Behind Blue Eyes, Music Must Change, Drowned, Who Are You, 5:15

Disc 2:  Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me, Long Live Rock, My Generation, I Can See For Miles, Sparks, Won’t Get Fooled Again, applause, The Real Me, Dancing In The Streets, Dance It Away, Young Man Blues, Roadrunner, Big Boss Man, How Can You Do It Alone

Chicago 1979 Definitive Version is the first DVD to be released by the Wardour label and follows the release, by several months, of the soundtrack on Long Live Rock (Wardour-026).  The year following the devastating loss of drummer Keith Moon saw The Who regrouping with new drummer Kenny Jones and playing limited engagements around Europe and the US rehearsing with a new drummer and venturing out onstage again. 

Their first concert of the year was on May 2nd at the Rainbow Theater in London followed by shows in France, more in London, and five shows at Madison Square Garden in New York in mid-September.  Following these appearances was a short, two week long tour of eastern cites in the U.S. and the year ended with their participation at the Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea on December 28th. 

This DVD comes from a satellite simulcast of the Chicago concert which was right in the middle of the tour.  It was broadcast to cinemas to give those who were not on the east coast, and those who could not get tickets, an opportunity to see The Who with their new drummer on their first series of American dates in over three years.

This is a multi-camera, pro-shot production lasting approximately two and a half hours.  It is a generation or two from the master with some grain and some dropouts.  But in general it is very good quality with vibrant, distinct colors.  The picture preserves the 4:3 ratio appropriate for a television broadcast.  The time counter is on the top of the screen and is sometimes intrusive by cutting off Townshend’s and Daltrey’s heads in long shots.  There is a cut after “Drowned” which cuts off the very beginning of the following song “Who Are You.” 

The final song of the show “How Can You Do It Alone” was included as a bonus track on Face Dances Remastered in 1997 where the almost eight minute long jam was edited down to five and a half minutes.  Four songs, “5:15,” “My Wife,” “Music Must Change,” and “Pinball Wizard” are included on the DVD 30 Years Of Maximum R&B Live released in 2001.  Wardour is the label to offer the first commercial release of the entire show. 

The sound is very clear and precise with the emphasis upon the higer frequencies and the bass placed low in the mix.  After the cut in the tape there is noticable distortion in the sound from “Who Are You” to the end, producing a crispy effect.  There is no apparent reason for this and it is most annoying during louder passages where the distortion really interferes with the music.

It is worth noting that this show occurs five days after the tragedy in Cincinnati where eleven fans were killed in a stampede to get good seats for the show.  Although no mention of the incident is made, it is known the band took the incident very hard and Townshend looks pale and thick bags under his eyes.  The set list shares a similarity with the previous tours by beginning with “Substitute” and “I Can’t Explain” in some combination and ending with “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” but on this tour they include several songs from Quadrophenia, most likely because the movie adaptation was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 14 and given national circulation in the U.S. on November 2nd, a month before this tour began.  

The video begins with a silent test pattern before the band take the stage.  Townshend and Daltrey pose for the camera before the band launches into “Substitute” followed by “I Can’t Explain” with the guitarist punctuating the power chords at the end with massive windmills.  Afterwards Daltrey says, “You know tonight there’s a lot of people out there watching us and I’d like to say hello to those at the Parthenon and those at the Granada.  I hope you have a great time out there….OUT HERE IN THE FIELDS!!”

The band play “Baba O’Riley and get lost in the middle section.  “It must be the echo in this place” is Daltrey’s excuse afterwards and before the band play “Punk And The Godfather” Townshend comes up to the microphone and says, “We would like to say hello to the people in Gateway (long pause).  And Nortown.  Both of those places are my hometown.  We were born there.”  (The Parthenon, Granada, Gateway and Nortown are all movie theaters where this was being broadcast).  John Entwistle announces that he’ll sing “My Wife” instead of “Boris The Spider.” 

After an energetic rendition of the song it is John Entwistle’s turn to do some publicity for the broadcast by saying, “we gotta say hello to Vassey and Upton as well.  Hello Vassey and Upton….wherever you are.”  “Behind Blue Eyes” is augmented by the keyboards in a novel arrangement and Townshend continues thanking theaters before admitting The Who are a bad group, but know how to have a good time.  Both “Music Must Change” and “Drowned” are middle of the show tour-de-forces with heavy emphasis on the keyboards and the horn section. 

The set closes with “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and the video contains the full three minutes of audience shots waiting for the encore.  The band come out and play another twenty minutes concluding on an eight minute jam on the new song “How Can You Do It Alone?”  It is great to have a full Who concert on videotape in very good quality and this DVD is essential and definitely worth having.

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The Who - Chicago 1979 Definitive Version (Wardour DVD Series 001), 2.5 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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  1. Profile photo of solly
    solly says
    October 13, 2010, 6:23 pm

    Thanks for the clarification.

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    gsparaco says
    October 13, 2010, 5:13 pm

    This review was written in 2006, before the release of the Apocalypse Sound DVD.

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    solly says
    October 13, 2010, 3:59 pm

    This concert was released in its entirety and in excellent quality on The Apocalypse Sound DVD label entitled “Roadrunners”(AS 115) in 2007.This titled also included eleven songs from The Who’s October 12, 1982 concert at Shea Stadium. Again in great sound and pro -shot video quality albeit with a time code at the bottom of the screen.
    A title well worth searching out and a must have for a Who collector.

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