The Who – Keith’s Final Live (Bell Boy ON.211076A/B)

Keith’s Final Live (Bell Boy ON.211076A/B)

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – October 21st, 1976

Disc 1 (45:02):  I Can’t Explain, Substitute, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Squeeze Box, Behind Blue Eyes, Dreaming From The Waist, Magic Bus 

Disc 2 (64:08):  Introduction of Tommy, 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, My Generation Blues, Who Are You, Won’t Get Fooled Again

At the end of another busy year with live performance, the final live show of the year was at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on October 21st, 1976.  After almost two years of solid touring, the band would afterwards take a long break while writing and recording the follow up to The Who By Numbers called Who Are You and working on their documentary The Kids Are Alright.

With long breaks in 1977 and 1978, and with only two private shows for filming purposes, until Keith Moon died in September 1978 means that the 1976 show in Toronto is the final Who concert with him on drums before a public audience.  For Who collectors it carries much import.

A paragraph from The Concert File is printed on the artwork, stating that “The tour had initially set two dates in Toronto, the second gig books for Friday, October 22, The Who played one night only.  Also scrapped was a concert set for Montreal on the 23rd and a provisional date for a third concert back in Toronto on the 24th. 

“The group wrapped up their 1976 tour with a tremendous show, giving the 20,000 fans who packed the Gardens a performance ‘of such nerve shattering power that not even The Rolling Stones four years ago did for the crowd what The Who did last night,’ according to one local reviewer.” 

For such an important tape there haven’t been  many releases with this tape.  Last Stand With Keith Moon (Montserrat Records BRCD 1903/1904) came out more than a decade ago.  Keith’s Final Live is a bit more loud and clear, an improvement over the older title.

At the very start of the show the sound is a bit unstable, as if the taper were finding the ideal spot for his recorder.  Once he settles down he is able to produce a very clear and enjoyable recording of the entire concert.  It is a slight notch below the 1975 Toronto show, but not by much.

The setlist is almost identical to the previous year.  “Boris The Spider” is omitted, as is “Roadrunner” from the “My Generation” improvisation.  Roger Daltrey himself addresses the situation after “Substitute,” telling Toronto that “We’re gonna be playing roughly the same act as we played about a year ago but hopefully we’re playing to people who never seen it before.”

The entire band are loose, but not as loose as the previous year.  There are many shouts for John Entwistle before “My Wife.”  He is delayed a bit beforehand, and Pete Townshend plays a bit of “The Entrance Of The Gladiators.”  

Perhaps remembering the last time in Toronto, Daltrey doesn’t try to encourage the audience to sing along to “Squeeze Box.”  Afterwards he intorduces Moon as “the indestructible” and the drummer scolds them, saying:  “Since you refrained from singing on the last number, I’ll do the same on this one. Just for spite.”

“Dreaming From The Waist” features an “out-of-tune bass solo” by Enwistle, and before they start “Magic Bus” Daltrey tells Toronto “Now we really wanna hear ya.  And you better be as out of tune as we are.”  They all get their licks in during the long improv and Townshend even does his best Travis Bickle impression, saying “you talkin’ to me??”

Moon gives a long introduction to Tommy, pointing out the ballet versions and the film versions were all good, but “I now present for your edification by the original band … the unedited version of Tommy.”  The suite is played with breathless perfection and receives a loud ovation as they go into “Summertime Blues,” which sounds trite and banal after the rock opera.  

“My Generation” has an excellent Townshend guitar jam.  After “Join Together” and the blues arrangement of “My Generation” he plays a primitive version of “Who Are You?”  It lacks the keyboard in the melody, but the chords are present, a rudimentary version of the melody and  Townshend singing “I want to know, I want to know, who are you?”

At the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” Townsend throws his guitar up into the air but misses the catch. He picks it up, gives it a few strums, then proceeded to smash it up on stage.  Many loud moans can be heard on the tape coming from the stage at this point.  A fitting end to Keith’s final show with the band.

Keith’s Final Live is a phenomenal release.  It hits all of the important points in this hobby.  It has very good sound, it’s a great performance and the show itself is historically significant. 

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