Toronto 1975 (Heart Breaker HB-808-1/2)
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – December 11th, 1975
Disc 1 (44:53): I Can’t Explain, Substitute, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Squeeze Box, Behind Blue Eyes, Dreaming From The Waist, Boris The Spider, Magic Bus
Disc 2 (58:38): 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 / Spoonful / Roadrunner / My Generation Blues, Won’t Get Fooled Again
The Who finished a busy year of touring, including two tours of North America and Europe, with concerts in Toronto, Providence, Springfield, and Philadelphia before three shows at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.
Toronto was first released on vinyl in 1980 on Raw (Who Raw) (K&S 004). The sound was poor and it covered only the first half of the show (from “I Can’t Explain” to “Magic Bus.”) A much better sounding tape was pressed on CD as Live In Toronto 12-11-75 (Substitute Recordings 382-828332-2) but “Spoonful” and “My Generation Blues” are missing.
Heart Breaker released Toronto 1975 in 1999. It has the same excellent sound quality as Substitute Recordings, but offers the full show for the first time in any format. It rivals the other shows in sound quality and is also among the most intense, fun, and joyful shows from era.
But it starts off rather tight. “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute” are very good, and John Entwistle wows the crowd with “My Wife.” The people by the taper love shouting out their love for the bassist.
Roger Daltrey calls “Baba O’Riley” his favorite Who song, and one of the tapers even shouts out “Meher Baba,” Pete Townshend’s guru and half of the song’s title, in appreciation (it’s impressive someone knows that much about the band to know that).
Daltrey tries to loosen the audience a bit before “Squeeze Box,” telling them “let’s break down any barriers between you and us. Join in with this song, which is our latest single. It has a very easy chorus you can join in on…” and sings the chorus, but to no avail.
Afterwards he scold them, saying, “you’re a lousy bunch of singers that’s for sure.” Townshend chimes in with “don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself. If you want an example, just look at us. We live it, and it’s great.”
As Keith Moon wanders offstage Pete jokes “Keith Moon is playing with a wood leg tonight … as he wanders off to get another shot of novocaine up his ass. He has a numb buttock…we’ll continue with a song which doesn’t include him” before “Behind Blue Eyes.”
Things become much more intense and wild during “Dreaming From The Waist” and especially during “Boris The Spider.” Before they can start the next song Moon has to tell the crowd “to please settle down and stop rushing the barriers. There are people down in front getting hurt. This one starts off real slowly and builds up into a TUMULTUOUS EXPLOSIVE SOUND.”
Townshend jokes, “Have you ever been to a Keith Moon rally before? He doesn’t play the drums, he just screams at the audience. Alright, we’ll start the bus off in first gear” before a long, loose, wild, and overall intriguing version of the song.
Tommy is likewise loose with many shouts of “rock and roll.” It is one of the very few rock and roll suites to produce strong emotional reactions from the music alone. It had already by 1975, after many years of touring and the film, become one of the most significant pieces of popular music composed and the band treat it as such.
But the real fun in the show stars with “My Generation,” segueing into “Join Together,” and “Spoonful” and a sleazy rendition of “Roadrunner” (complete with Townshend’s cartoon “beep beep”) before leading back into the blues arrangement of “My Generation” and the set’s explosive finale “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
The Who hit a high point in live performance during this period and Toronto 1975 is one of the better examples. Heart Breaker package the title in a slimline jewel case with several live shots of Roger Daltrey from era. Only one side of the inserts is printed. The other side is pure white. It’s not clear why the label did this with some titles and not with others. Nevertheless, this is now a hard title to find but is worth having.