Going To Kansas City (Mainstream MAST-100/101)
Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO – December 1st, 1975
Disc 1 (37:45): I Can’t Explain, Substitute, Squeeze Box, Baba O’Riley, My Wife, Behind Blue Eyes, Dreaming From The Waist, Magic Bus
Disc 2 (53:11): Amazing Journey, Sparks, The Acid Queen, Fiddle About, Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Summertime Blues, My Generation / Join Together / My Generation Blues, Roadrunner / Won’t Get Fooled Again
The Who’s December 1st, 1975 appearance in the Kemper Arena was their first visit to Kansas City in five years. It is a long time in the life of a rock group in its prime. In 1970 they were touring off of their latest LP Tommy, performing most of the album and becoming rock superstars.
Five years later Who’s Next already has become a staple on AOR, Quadrophenia was issued to much acclaim, the movie version of Tommy hit the theaters and they were complaining about approaching middle age on The Who By Numbers. It is this kind of wonder which infuses the performance with several comments made by the band throughout the show.
Going To Kansas City was released in 2004 on Mainstream and utilizes a very good mono audience recording of the complete show. Critics disagree on the sound quality of this recording with opinions ranging from “fair” (Whitefang) to “very good / excellent” (Baba O’Riley).
The reality is somewhere in the middle. It is distant and somewhat distorted, but clear enough to be enjoyed. There are cuts between many of the songs (although the song introductions are mostly intact) and “Sparks” is cut after 4:14 and “My Generation” is cut at 4:35. Mainstream is more complete than the other silver pressed version of the show found on Kansas City 1975 (Masterport-186).
Marshall Fine reviewed this show for the Journal World, stating that “if this was the last time The Who will play together, the group left its followers with the memory of a truly superior performance.” Kansas City is a very slick, professional mid-tour performance with a lot of jokes and hilarity to keep the action moving.
After the opening “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute” Daltrey tells the audience “a lot has happened since we were last here, that’s for sure.” They play the first of only two new songs “Squeeze Box,” and that passes by in an instant. It was their most successful single from the latest album and was a good candidate to be stretched and improvised, but they never did.
Townshend introduces “Baba O’Riley” as a song “from the early days, about three or four years ago, from the Who’s Next album. And this one’s dedicated to the incongruous combination of Terry Riley and Meher Baba.”
“My Wife” played for the first time on this particular tour. It replaces “Boris The Spider” in this show, although in other concerts both would be played giving Entwistle two songs. “He’s written so many songs we have to decide what to play” Daltrey jokes beforehand.
“Drowned” was dropped from the set after the November 24th show in Atlanta and wouldn’t be played live for another four years. Nothing from Quadrophenia was played. Moon has his introduction to “Behind Blue Eyes.” He states that this is a song that he has a “chance to go off and have a quick fag” to which Pete responds “you mean a cigarette, well over here fag means something different.”
“Magic Bus” is for “a few geriatrics” and doesn’t last as long as other performances. The Tommy suite has a several hesitations but ends very nicely with an energetic “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
“Summertime Blues” starts off normally but is pushed into a very subtle guitar solo by Townshend who threatens to play “Louie, Louie” in the middle. He plays the melody for the well known song several times, but the band don’t know the rest so the return to the Cochrane song.
“My Generation” segues into the slow arrangement of “Join Together,” a blues arrangement of “My Generation,” then into “Roadrunner” before the final song of the night “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
Going To Kansas City is among several Who titles released at the same time (Danger! Over Head Live Wires (Mainstream MAST-104/105) and Can Anybody Out There Play Drums? (Mainstream-94/95) came out about the same time). While it is a very good recording and performance, there are much better recordings available from this tour. It is, however, recommended for committed Who collectors.