Yasgur’s Farm, Bethel, Woodstock, New York, USA – August 17, 1969
DVD (1:02:52) Heaven And Hell < part >, I Can’t Explain, It’s A Boy, 1921, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker), Christmas < part >, The Acid Queen < part >, Pinball Wizard < part >, “I Can Dig It”, Do You Think Its Alright, Fiddle About, There’s A Doctor, Go To The Mirror, Smash The Mirror, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It < part > See Me Feel Me – Listening To You, Summertime Blues, My Generation – Smash The Guitar. Bonus; Alternate Version. See Mee Feel Me – Listening To You, My Generation – Smash The Guitar
The Who’s performance at the Woodstock Festival in the Summer of 1969 took place while the band was touring in support of their breakthrough Rock Opera Tommy. Their performance came in the early hours of Sunday August 17 and while the band were represented in the Movie and LP soundtrack it certainly did not do the performance justice. Complete audio has circulated for some time and eventually the footage came as well, the best edition being as part of the Isle Of Wight 1969 (4Reel). Where 4Reel used all B&W footage, this new release from Johanna is a mix of black and white stock as well as color. The black and white footage is good but does suffer generational loss so while you can clearly make out everything it is not sharp. There is a time stamp at the bottom of the picture but once one gets into the performance you really don’t really know its there, it is a single camera shot from side stage on Pete’s side. The color footage is much better, while not as sharp as the official footage it is very good with a clear picture and no color bleeding making it a joy to watch, this footage utilizes a multi camera mix. The transition from B&W to color is seamless and well handled. The audio LPCM is soundboard in of excellent quality and is synced properly with the visuals, the audio is the main upgrade for this set as the 4Reel version audio is sourced from the footage, Johanna uses the excellent soundboard as its audio thus making it much more powerful and enjoyable.
Since the band was playing during the nighttime hours the footage makes it seem that they are playing in isolation but turn in a stunning performance. Heaven and Hell retains its place as set opener, the song picks up a minute or so into the song and is quickly followed by I Can’t Explain. Since this was a festival performance the band were allotted a little over an hour for their set, Tommy would become a truncated performance missing The Overture, Cousin Kevin, Underture, Tommy Can You Hear Me?, Miracle Cure, Sensation, Sally Simpson, and Welcome. The Tommy suite starts with It’s A Boy with Amazing Journey being extremely powerful, the first bit of color footage is used for all of Sparks, the camera angles are all different, makes sense since they were different cameras and this footage gives a different perspective of the performance. The B&W footage returns for Eyesight To The Blind, Christmas through Pinball Wizard are not complete, The Acid Queen is just a fragment with the camera focusing on some kind of rear projection of an illuminated eye that is dark yet ominous looking.
The color footage is used for Pinball Wizard, at it’s conclusion the band is caught off guard as Abbie Hoffman walks on stage and proclaims “I think this is a pile of shit! While John Sinclair rots in prison”, see the expression of a confused looking John Entwhistle looking on and a very pissed Pete Townsend who proclaims “I Can dig it” and proceeds to tune his guitar. The invasion seems to briefly kill the momentum making Townsend to say “The next fuckin’ person that walks across this stage is gonna get fuckin’ killed” . The color footage returns 22 seconds into See Me, Feel Me making the song that much more dramatic, a three camera montage is used as well as many close ups of Roger, striking in his fringed short looking every bit the Rock God. The song brings the finale of Tommy and a massive ovation for the group who seems pleased with their performance, as they should be. A loud and brash Summertime Blues follows, again the multi camera screen is utilized, Roger bathed in red lights is somewhat blurred versus the other angles. My Generation is the final song of the set and while not listed on the cover, the Naked Eye outro is present with dramatic angles as well as Pete sacrificing his guitar. There are two bonus tracks on the DVD, alternate versions of See Me Feel Me and Summertime Blues both with wide screen angles.
The packaging is simple full color inserts in a clam shell case, the front cover is striking with Roger’s silhouette against a spotlight from a lighting rig in the distant. There is an insert as well, with the track listing on the front and pictures of other festival performers in the middle, great one of Johnny Winter (RIP). The last page is an explanation of the Abbie Hoffman Incident. The DVD menu is very basic, I could not find an individual track list but once you push play there are cue stops for each of the songs. The Who’s performance at Woodstock is legendary and for good reason, they turned in one of the best performances of the festival, the folks at Johanna have produced a great version of the concert and is worth seeking out.