The Complete MSG 1976 (Seymour SR-017/018)
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – March 11th, 1976
Disc 1 (74:23): Intro, I Can’t Explain, Substitute, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Squeeze Box, Behind Blue Eyes, Slip Kid, Dreaming From The Waist, Magic Bus, Amazing Journey, Sparks, The Acid Queen, Fiddle About, Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It
Disc 2 (46:54): Summertime Blues, My Generation, Join Together, My Generation Blues, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Roadrunner, Let’s See Action, Naked Eye
Seymour produced the silver debut of The Who’s March 11th, 1976 New York show on The Complete MSG 1976. The sound quality for this tape is very good and clear being taped very close to the stage. There is some audience conversation at the very beginning of the tape but is otherwise not intrusive. There is a small cut after “Magic Bus” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” but none during music or stage introductions so it presents the show in its entirety.
So complete is this tape that there is a ten minute stretch between “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Roadrunner” featuring audience cheering and music playing over the Garden’s PA waiting for the band to come out for an encore.
The frequencies tend to favor the lower end and there is significant distortion during the latter half of “Baba O’Riley” and during the closing medley beginning in “My Generation Blues” and continuing through “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
1976 was their last year of touring with Keith Moon as the drummer before his death in September 1978. The Who came to North America three seperate times: a fourteen date tour in the spring, four dates in August and ten more shows in October. The spring tour began on March 9th in Boston but was cancelled after the first two songs because Keith Moon collapsed.
The New York show was originally scheduled for March 10th but was pulled back one day to let Moon recuperate. The set list is almost the same as it was in 1975 except with the addition of some numbers of The Who By Numbers. The play some oldies, selections from Who’s Next and a Tommy medley and completely ignore Quadrophenia which made up the bulk of their set in 1973.
The set begins with two older songs “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute.” “There’s two songs which we first played on the Murray The K show in ’67” Roger Daltrey says afterwards. “Anyway, to carry on with a song by our bass player The Ox.” After playing Entwistle’s song Daltrey introduces “Baba O’Riley” by saying, “Here’s another song from the same album Who’s Next. Written by a man playing his ass off on lead guitar Pete Townshend.”
During the “don’t cry” bridge Moon comes in a bit early but the song ends strongly. Before “Behind Blue Eyes” Pete Townshend speaks a bit about the delayed show by saying, “We’d like to send off the boy…Mr. Moon has been taken away…with a closed mouth douche and an enema. It’s a laxative. And he’ll be back in a minute. We’d like to apologize to you for missing the show yesterday. Looks like there was a chance of missing the show today as well. This one…I don’t know what’s fucking going on, I’m only the guitar player. This one’s ‘Behind Blues Eyes.'”
One of the virtues of this tape is a rare live version of “Slip Kid.” Daltrey introduces the song by saying, “We’re gonna carry on with a song we’ve only played three times on stage from the By The Numbers album. It might be a single later on.” It was played on February 28th in Munich, March 1st and 2nd in Paris before this and would appear in three more shows on this tour before disappearing forever. It is a number that could have worked on stage if given the chance, but the rendition in New York is a bit ragged.
“Magic Bus” is a fantastic nine minute jam before Moon introduces the Tommy medley by saying, “We’d like to do something written by Peter Townshend which Peter made into an opera. And a film after the same title. It is a rock opera entitled Tommy….Or what’s left of Tommy.” There is some kind of commotion and Townshend responds by saying, “Keep that up and we’re never coming back to America again.”
The set ends with a long passage where “My Generation,” “Join Together,” “My Generation Blues” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” are segued together into a long medley. It sounds as if the band tire by the final song since it lacks the usual excitement.
The Who are notorious for never doing encores but they come back out on stage. They play a very short, ninety second version of “Roadrunner” followed by the scarce “Let’s See Action” making its only appearance on the tour. Afterwards Townshend says “This is the first encore we played in twenty years. We don’t know what to play.”
They finish the evening with an exciting seven minute version of “Naked Eye” before bringing the show to a close. Overall this is a good show but with some reservations. It is worth having for the rare live “Skip Kid.”
Seymour package this in a double slimline jewel case with an unattractive design on the front cover. Soon after Seymour released this, Mainstream released Outrageous Live (MAST-029/030) which is, one might assume, in similar sound quality. They are a label with some of the ugliest artwork, but for the Who collector this is a good title to have.