Who fans may find it hard to believe that prior to 2017, the legendary British rockers had never actually performed their classic 1969 studio album Tommy live in its entirety, which might be understandable given the pioneering rock opera's numerous stage and screen adaptions. It took them nearly five decades, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers finally remedied the oversight earlier this year on April 1 in London at the historic Royal Albert Hall.
The Who's first-ever live performance of Tommy marked the band's 100th benefit concert for Teen Cancer Trust and also served as the launch for their 2017 Tommy & More Tour. This very special show was captured on film and will be released in multiple formats as “Tommy - Live at Royal Albert Hall" on Oct. 13 via Eagle Rock.
It's clear from the outset that Who co-founders Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are truly pumped for this rare occasion. Performing Tommy live in a truncated medley form of individual hits from the opera like “Pinball Wizard” and “See Me, Feel Me” is a far cry from undertaking the entire double album.
Daltrey starred in the 1975 film version and has previously toured Tommy as a solo artist while Townshend, as principal composer, was heavily involved with the successful Broadway musical production. But even when The Who toured the album themselves in 1989 as part of Tommy's 20th-anniversary performance, tracks like Townshend's superb instrumental "Underture" and Daltrey's vocal turn on the ballad "Welcome” were not on the setlist and are among the highlights of the Royal Albert Hall show.
The concert is interspersed with interview footage of Daltrey and Townshend prior to the show and includes a bonus behind-the-scenes documentary as well as alt-takes on “Acid Queen” and “Pinball Wizard.” Fans who can't imagine a Who concert without live staples like “Baba O'Riley” or “Won't Get Fooled Again" need not fret as The Who appease the faithful with a lengthy 7-song encore of greatest hits.
The Who finished their 2017 touring year with their first-ever tour of South America, which wrapped up with a huge show Oct. 1 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The band will now take at least a year off as the recently wed Townshend takes a sabbatical to enjoy time with his new bride Rachel Fuller. Fans can catch the next best thing when Daltrey and his band return for a US solo romp, which kicks off Oct. 30 in Clearwater, Florida at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Get your tickets now at AXS.