Boris The Spider (Killing Floor KF 98005/6)
Friedrich Ebert Halle, Ludwigshafen, Germany – November 7th, 1975
Disc 1 (38:07): I Can’t Explain, Substitute, Squeeze Box, Baba O’Riley, Boris The Spider, Drowned, However Much I Booze, Dreaming From The Waist, Behind Blue Eyes
Disc 2 (51:14): Amazing Journey / Sparks, The 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 / Roadrunner / My Generation Blues, Naked Eye
Between two US tours in 1975 The Who squeezed in a week of shows in Germany in early November. Boris The Spider documents the second of two shows in Ludwigshafen, the final show in Germany, and the final Who show with Keith Moon in continental Europe.
Killing Floor utilize an audience recording which starts off a bit rough but cleans up nicely as the show progresses. There a few minor cuts between some songs, a big cut 7:42 in “Sparks,” and “Naked Eye” fades out after several minutes omitting “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (and “Magic Bus” according to some sources).
After the opening salvo of “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute” Daltrey complains about the “usual screaming matches out front.” The taper was too far away to catch the commotion. It’s a wonder, given how tense Daltrey and Pete Townshend sound, that they praise this audience in Houstonlater in the month.
Daltrey gets into a long dialogue after “Squeeze Box,” saying that Who’s Next was overshadowed by Tommy when it came out in 1971 but represented a significant advance for them. As true as that may have been at the time, it has reversed in the ensuing forty years. “Pinball Wizard” is really the only classic from the rock opera which gets any significant amount of airplay, but the following LP contributed several tracks that are considered classics, including “Baba O’Riley,” the song they were getting ready to play.
“Drowned” is introduced as the only song left from Quadrophrenia, and “However Much I Booze” is very smooth and tight in one of its final live performances.
The second half of the show starts off with the Tommy suite. Mooney stutters through the introduction. “It’s been a bad week” he quips. As if to confirm Daltrey’s observation from earlier, they play nine songs totaling almost a half hour of songs from the rock opera, by far more than from any other album including songs from their latest album The Who By Numbers. The performance is very good and the audience react favorably.
But it shows a lack of faith in their newer material. And the fact that the setlist remained relatively unchanged in the middle years of the seventies were a bad sign for the group. The legacy of By Numbers probably suffered as a result of their lack of faith.
After they play the suite, they follow with a long stretch of improvisation beginning with “Summertime Blues” and the blues rendition of “My Generation.”
During “Roadrunner” Townshend gets into some bizarre riffs bordering on atonality. The results are subtle, strange and an interesting variation on the usual crunch he brings to the improvisation. It’s a shame the tape cuts off in “Naked Eye” cutting out “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and the encore (if there was one).
Killing Floor package Boris The Spider in a single pocket cardboard sleeve with an excellent photograph from the era on the front cover like their Chicago 1971 release. And just like their other Who releases, they resisted the temptation to apply much mastering in the tape, but leaving it along warts and all.