Seattle 1976 (No Label)
Seattle Center Coliseum, Seattle, WA, USA – March 25, 1976
Disc 1 (45:24) Intro, I Can’t Explain, Substitute, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Squeeze Box, Behind Blue Eyes, Dreaming From The Waist, Magic Bus
Disc 2 (39:36) MC, 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, My Generation, Won’t Get Fooled Again
The month of March in 1976 would be a somewhat tumultuous one in the history of The Who. They begin their tour of America in Boston, well attempt to anyway. Keith Moon is in poor shape and collapses during Substitute and the concert is aborted. The following evening the drummer kicks a painting, the glass of the frame slices his foot open and he almost bleeds to death. These two events create serious friction between the band and Keith, reportedly there were discussions about replacing the drummer at some point in this period. “The Loon” is not the only one with problems, during a concert at the Anaheim Stadium in California, Pete Townsend sustained serious damage to his ear drum. He went to a doctor about the painful ringing in his ear only to be told that it is tinnitus and is told there is no cure, only treatment and if he continues to subject himself to the volumes associated with The Who, he will lose his hearing completely within a few years.
By the time The Who reaches Seattle on March 25 they seem to be in better shape, Moon is under control and the band is playing well, unfortunately several band members were suffering from the flu. The Seattle Times noted “you couldn’t tell from their performance” only Keith Moon “looked under the weather”. This title from the No Label folks documents the evening’s performance, with thanks to the massive JEMS archive. The sound on this title is excellent, clear and detailed, sounding as if it was recorded close to the stage. The highs are crisp and the tape has a superb bottom end giving a nice punchy and powerful sound, and there is just enough audience in the mix which adds to the atmosphere inside the 14,000 seat arena. It is, however incomplete as there is a tape cut at the end of See Me, Feel Me eliminating the end of the song, Summertime Blues is completely missing as is the majority of My Generation.
By this time of the tour the set list was standard, I Can’t Explain and Substitute make for a dynamic opening salvo, the audience are pumped up for the show and the atmosphere is on from the first notes. In typical Who fashion they speak to the crowd, Pete says “ello to Jimi Hendrix’s 46 cousins” and introduces “John Entwistle’s cousin on the drums…Mr Keith Entwistle…I mean Mr Johnny Moon” to great hilarity. Roger gets to MC and introduces My Wife and “Big Bad Johnny Twinkle”. What is great about this recording is that Keith’s drums are perfect in the mix, clear and detailed and very powerful. It’s recordings like this where you hear not only how great he was, but totally unique in style.
Roger tells the audience he has the flu prior to Baba O’Riley to which Pete responds “bloody disgusting”, during the synth intro Pete does a shout similar to the recorded version and gets a nice ovation. The band play but two songs from their most recent album The Who By Numbers, Squeeze Box and Dreaming From The Waist, Slip Kid was played at the start of the tour but was dropped after a weeks worth of dates. Keith gets to do the intro to Behind Blue Eyes and gets into a hilarious sketch with Pete who notes that Keith has gone off for an “anal injection”, damn tough crowd!
The Tommy medley was a standard on the 1975 and 1976 tours, largely brought to the stage as the feature film, released in 1975, was still making its cinematic rounds, the mix of songs worked well and is very dynamic musically. The group seem to choose the most bombastic numbers, Amazing Journey, Sparks, The Acid Queen are all very heavy. Roger being not 100 percent is noticeable when he tries the high vocals for I’m Free, just can’t quite get there. See Me, Feel Me is dramatic, as the band starts the audience give a huge ovation and are ecstatic throughout the piece. Beginning at the 2:40 mark there is a tape issue and at the 2:59 mark the song ends with the recording transitioning into the last 2:40 of My Generation. By the time the band finish Won’t Get Fooled Again one gets the feeling of exhaustion from both the band and audience.
The members of The Who have always felt that 1976 was a high point for their performances and they were playing at the peak of their powers, recordings like this confirm that hypothesis. The packaging is typical, full color inserts from the tour, the live shots are quite dynamic. The CD’s have the same pictures as the cover and there is a numbered sticker on some editions, a quite satisfying release.