The Who – Largo 1976 (Maximum R&B W-8376/8476)
The Who’s touring schedule for 1976 would find them still in support of the The Who By Numbers record, the band would play 27 dates in the United States with the majority of the concerts done in two main legs. Four of these concerts were done in August 1976 and the short mini tour was dubbed the “Whirlwind Leg” and consisted of two dates in Largo, Maryland and the remaining two dates being in Jacksonville and Miami, Florida. This new release features both of the concerts at the 18,000 seat Capital Centre in Largo and are from excellent audience recordings from the collector known as JEMS, both are from the master cassettes, and are from the same taper who used a Sony 153-SD Cassette deck with Advert Dynamic microphones. There has been a previous release on a Pro CD-r title Washington 1976 Magic Sounds (Midnight Dreamer MD-356A/B/C) so it is great to have these shows on silver pressed CD’s.
Capital Centre, Largo, MD, USA – August 3, 1976
Disc 1 (42:12) Intro, I Can’t Explain, Substitute, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Squeeze Box, Behind Blue Eyes, Dreaming From The Waist, Magic Bus
Disc 2 (55:59) MC, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Acid Queen, Fiddle About, Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It, See Me Feel Me, Summertime Blues, My Generation, Join Together, My Generation Blues, Won’t Get Fooled Again
For the first night the taper sat in the eighth row on Pete’s side, the sound is a superb stereo recording with a close to perfect balance of vocals and instruments with the guitar being a tad predominant, there is some occasional audience noise close by but that just adds to the ambience of the gig. The recording picks up just before the band play their first number, there is a woman close by who goes nuts pretty much setting the stage for the rest of the gig. The opening two numbers are fast paced with I Can’t Explain sounding a bit ragged but Substitute is pretty much full steam as evident by a nice Pete solo. “Who said we wouldn’t show up?” are Roger’s opening comments and he introduces “Big Black Johnny Twinkle” and My Wife. The sound improves slightly as the song gives the band a chance to stretch out a bit and do a little jamming, Pete’s guitar has a wonderful nasty sound to it.
The version of Baba O’Riley is very tight and the lyric “There all wasted” gets a huge ovation as does the song at its conclusion. There are only two songs from the Numbers record, the first is Squeeze Box and it sounds as if Pete is playing a country tinged guitar solo that is quite nice. The second song from the album is Dreaming From The Waste that is far more convincing live than Squeeze Box and one can picture Pete slashing aggressively at his guitar. Magic Bus gets a loud ovation and also allows the band to jam again and features contributions from all four members with Roger getting into the mix with a bit of harmonica here and there.
The second disc starts with the Tommy segment of the concert with Keith doing the introduction for it, the crowd goes nuts. Sparks sounds very heavy metal like when Pete breaks into the riff it is quite devastating in this recording. Of course it is Pinball Wizard that garners the loudest cheers from the audience and the See Me, Feel Me finale features the audience clapping along as the song builds to its conclusion. The band do not end My Generation but play a little jam thing that segues into Join Together, there is a brief cut at the 2:02 mark for a tape flip, thankfully very little music is lost and I much enjoy the loose jam structure of the song as well as the My Generation blues. Won’t Get Fooled Again is the culmination of the concert and an apt finisher for the concert, while the band were a bit rusty around the edges an all around good opening night.
Capital Centre, Largo, MD, USA – August 4, 1976
Disc 3 (42:00) Intro, I Can’t Explain, Substitute, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Squeeze Box, Behind Blue Eyes, Dreaming From The Waist, Magic Bus
Disc 4 (57:43) MC, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Acid Queen, Fiddle About, Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It, See Me Feel Me, Summertime Blues, My Generation, Join Together, My Generation Blues, Won’t Get Fooled Again
For the second night in Largo the taper was a bit further back, the recording is a bit distant but still in the very good to excellent range. It is well balanced and clear with all instruments being clear in the mix and there is little audience noise close to the taper, the atmosphere is well captured. The recording is complete except for a brief cut during Magic Bus as the song had a false ending and the taper thought the song was over and started to change the tape, thankfully he realized what was happening and started the recording back up in time to capture the final seconds of the song. The second night also finds the band has shaken the bit of rust off from the first night and turn in a strong and professional performance. I Can’t Explain and Substitute are referred to by Roger as “two songs from ’65” before introducing John and naming some of his contributions to the band’s catalog. The sound clears up a bit for My Wife and is now quite enjoyable and would remain this way for the rest of the concert.
The position of the taper really gives this recording an ambience not found in the first night, this feeling is especially evident at the beginning of Baba O’Riley as the warm thrill flows over the audience, and listener, who respond in a wonderful ovation. Squeeze Box is much better than the previous night, this version is much more confident and the band sounds like they are enjoying playing it. Behind Blues Eyes is wonderfully dramatic, one can almost picture a venue full of lit matches. John plays some nice melodic bass during the quiet beginning, the band and audience roar and clap into the heavy section of the song in total unison. Magic Bus again finds the band in jam mode, Roger’s harmonica playing is very effective with the band jamming in support of him. The false ending of the song comes on the heels of Pete playing some blistering leads and the song riff and the tape cut is at the 10:13 mark, the label smoothed out the cut nicely.
The second disc features more of the bands comments in transition to the Tommy portion of the show, we get to hear Pete introduce Keith who again does the introduction to Tommy who gives props to the Capital of the USA and introduces it as “The Bicentennial version of Tommy” that garners a huge round of applause from the audience. While Amazing Journey sets the stage it is again Sparks that brings the house down, the band play an aggressive version of the song where Peter manages a fine line between riffs and feedback that blend together in a most metallic fashion. I’m Free continues the momentum begun with Pinball Wizard as the audience feverishly clap along and Holiday Camp is an enjoyable yet quirky interlude. The attentive audience seem to give the line in We’re Not Gonna Take It of “Hey you smoking Mother Nature” a nice cheer as an obvious marijuana reference. The band bring down the house with See Me, Feel Me, the beginning is so dramatic you can hear Roger sing more passionately after the massive response and with the audiences help bring the Tommy interlude to a fantastic and moving conclusion.
The energy level is infectious and continues to build through Summertime Blues as the audience is clearly suffering from them and uses the song to let off steam. The band lets off steam throughout the My Generation > Join Together > Blues jam, with the latter Pete brings the pace too close to a standstill as he noodles around and the audience begins to get restless and then the opening of Won’t Get Fooled Again starts bringing them to a state of euphoria. This features an interesting solo by Pete who seems to be playing his own thing at times, to the rowdy audience he is doing no wrong and their excitement is evident as Roger does his famous scream they erupt loudly and give the band a massive ovation at the songs conclusion brining an end to a most satisfying concert.
This four disc set comes packaged in a fat boy jewel case with inserts featuring live shots of the band, the cd’s have pictures on them with discs 1 & 2 featuring Roger and 3 & 4 showcasing Peter captured in full leap. The sound quality alone make this set worth buying but when you factor in the superb mastering of these two concerts and the simple yet effective packaging make this set essential to own.
If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)