The Who – Boston 1976 (no label)

Boston 1976 (no label)

Boston Garden, Boston, MA – April 1st, 1976

Disc 1 (55:04):  March 9th:  I Can’t Explain, Substitute, Keith Moon passes out.  April 1st, 1976:  I Can’t Explain, Substitute, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Squeeze Box, Behind Blue Eyes, Dreaming From The Waist, Magic Bus

Disc 2 (54:08):   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 Blues, Won’t Get Fooled Again

The Who started what would be their penultimate US tour with Keith Moon on drums on March 9th, 1976 in Boston.  Moon, the story goes, had the flu and passed out after two songs and the show was rescheduled almost a month later.  

The April 1st show has been out before Behind Blue Eyes (Dynamite Studio DS94A079 /80) utilizing a medicore audience recording.  Boston 1976 presents the Lampinski tapes for both the aborted concert and the make up show the following month.  Both are preserved in an excellent stereo recordings capturing the disaster and the aftermath.

The tape starts off with the March 9th show.  “I Can’t Explain” is very aggressive but sloppy and “Substitute” is very slow and ragged.  As Moon collapses Pete Townshend says “It looks like we may have a little problem, folks.  Keith Moon is in very very bad shape.”  Roger Daltrey chimes in “This is no bullshit” and asks “why do our tours always seem to start like this” referring to the start of the 1973 tour in San Francisco when Moon also collapsed.

Daltrey optimistically announces that the show would be made up the day after tomorrow (after the New York date), but Moon still had not recovered and even the New York show was pushed back a day.  The Wo had to return to Boston after the final date in Colorado.

But when they return they deliver one of the loudest and raunchiest shows from the tour.  After the opening “I Can’t Explain” Daltrey jokes “Thanks for waiting for the encore,” and after a wild “Substitute” he says “this is where we came in.”

John Entwistle gets a long introduction for “My Wife” with Daltrey listing the songs he’s written for the group over the years in an obvoius attempt to distance him from the stereotype of the quiet English bass player.  The band were one of the most compelling live acts from the rock era partly because they were more than a front man with a backing band, but all four were musicians, writers and performers.

One of the unfortunate casualties of Moon’s flu was “Slip Kid” from The Who By Numbers.  It was played in the New York show on March 11th and, one could assume, would have been played in Boston after “Behind Blue Eyes.”  The song was quickly dropped, however, and wouldn’t appear in the make up show. 

After “Dreaming From The Waist” they play a ten minute jam in “Magic Bus.”  This was the centerpiece of the set during the tour, the one where they could improvise the music and act like lunes on stage, calling back and forth.  Townshend plays a very melodic, delicate melody in the middle which seems to surprise the rest of the band judging by their lack of response.  

The second half of the show is dominated by the stripped-down Tommy suite.  Moon introduces the piece as “an opera that Pete wrote that has been made into a major motion picture and a ballet.” The half hour long interlude hits the highlights of the piece without becoming too tedious, capped of by an eight minute “We’re Not Gonna Take It / See Me Feel Me.”

A twelve minute medley of “My Generation” and “Join Together” is another chance for the band to jam, turning their early anthem into a slow blues number.  It segues into an explosive “Won’t Get Fooled Again” which ends with Entwistle’s cacophony of noise. 

Unlike New York there would be no encore for Boston that night.  Boston 1976 is another excellent production on the no label label who have issued several excellent Who titles over the years including the seminal New Jersey and New York 1979 shows.  This is an excellent quality recording and is worth having. 

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