New Paltz 1969(Holiday Camp NY.131169A/B)
Elting Gymnasium, SUNY At New Paltz, New Paltz, NY – November 13th, 1969
Disc 1 (47:24): Heaven And Hell, I Can’t Explain, Fortune Teller, Tattoo, Young Man Blues, Overture, It’s A Boy, 1921, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Eyesight To The Blind, Christmas, Acid Queen
Disc 2 (42:15): Pinball Wizard, Do You Think It’s Alright, Fiddle About, Tommy Can You Hear Me?, There’s A Doctor, Go To The Mirror, Smash The Mirror, Miracle Cure, Sally Simpson, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Summertime Blues, My Generation
The theater department at the State University of New York at New Paltz produced and staged a lavish production of The Who’s Tommy from April 28th to May 9th, 2011. Instead of a straight musical presentation, the theater department should be given credit for producing a full stage production with a cast of twenty-four, costumes, sets, choreography and inventive lighting to relate the narrative along with the musical band playing the music.
This is not the first time it has been staged. There have been many and various productions dating back to the early seventies. But the vigorous popularity forty years on suggests it has found a home in the canon of western theater.
New Paltz 1969 on Holiday Camp was released at the same time, almost to correspond with the new production. The new release documents the first time Tommy was performed at the university. But this was by the original composers in one of the final live shows in the US that year. The band had been playing it around the world for six months including at large festivals like Woodstock and on radio and would return to Europe for several more shows in Paris and London.
The label utilize the JEM mastering of the common audience recording. It is a fair to good audience recording. Some distortion is present, and there noticeable cuts at the very end of “Fortune Teller” and beginning of “Tattoo,” in “Eyesight To The Blind” at 1:21 and in “Summertime Blues” around 7:51. It is quite enjoyable, especially considering its age.
The tape starts off with a bit of tuning before an MC comes on stage and says simply: “Here they are: The Who.” The band begin the set with John Entwistle’s “Heaven And Hell” and continue with the standard set of the era.
“Tattoo” sounds very mellow, and Pete Townshend gives the Mose Ellison introduction to “Young Man Blues.” But the set is all about the rock opera and they do not disappoint. The give the standard “long” Tommy set which includes “Christmas” and “Sally Simpson,” two songs that would later be dropped.
The show ends with “Summertime Blues” and “My Generation” which also returns to various themes from the rock opera. It was a common arrangement during this time and an effective to leave the audience with their greatest work still ringing in their ears.
It is one of their more ferocious concerts, much like the Hollywood Bowl show during the summer, and the intensity boiled over into the dressing room after the show. An interesting eyewitness account of the show was written by a freshman who worked security for the show. He writes: “I was a freshman at New Paltz State in upstate New York, not too far from Woodstock, and working security for this concert. Once everyone was packed into the gym, my job was to sit on the stage and make sure nobody tried to climb up. As it was a smallish gym stage, I was sitting just a few feet from John.
“The Who came on, went into some hits, played the entire Tommy opera and did a 30 minute encore. Towards the end of the show, I noticed that Keith and John were giving each other sinister stares, I’m not sure why but something was going on. At the very end of the last song, Keith leaped through his drums, off the riser and straight onto John. They were fighting at my feet so I just reacted and tried to pull Keith off. In a few seconds, the roadies were on the scene and pushed me away.
“They broke it up and that was that. After that, I got to guard the dressing room entrance. A great show, Roger in his fringed vest, Pete in his jump suit, the entire band rocked out like only the Who can. Quite the night and quite an initiation to my first year of college. Worked many more concerts and have seen the Who many more times, but this was the best.”
Holiday Camp NY utilize very good period photographs for the era and package New Paltz 1969 in a double slimline jewel case. This is the very first time this show has been pressed onto silver disc and is another great Who document worth having.