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The Who Live, Featuring the Rock Opera Tommy (1989)

| Documentary, Music | TV Movie
Taped during The Who's 25th anniversary tour, the band with guest appearances by Steve Winwood, Patti LaBelle, Phil Collins and Elton John perform the rock opera Tommy in its entirety at ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vocals / Tommy Walker / Mr. Walker / Mrs. Walker / Narrator / Specialist
Guitars & Vocals / Mr. Walker / Mrs. Walker / Narrator
Bass Guitars / Vocals
Steve Bolton ...
John Bundrick ...
Simon Phillips ...
Jody Linscott ...
Percussion (as J. Linscott)
Roddy Lorimer ...
Simon Clarke ...
Tim Sanders ...
Neil Sidwell ...
Simon Gardner ...
Billy Nicholls ...
Vocals and Musical Director
Chyna ...
Vocals / Nurse


Taped during The Who's 25th anniversary tour, the band with guest appearances by Steve Winwood, Patti LaBelle, Phil Collins and Elton John perform the rock opera Tommy in its entirety at the Univeral Ampetheater in Los Angeles. The second half of the concert is devoted to the band playing their greatest hits. Written by Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>

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Documentary | Music





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Did You Know?


Eric Clapton and Tina Turner were supposed to appear at the concert reprising their roles from the film as the Hawker and the Acid Queen repectively. However, they dropped out a few weeks before the concert took place. See more »


References Tommy (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

The Who, Vegas style
19 June 2003 | by (England) – See all my reviews

The 1989 Who reunion tour undoubtedly damaged the band's uncompromising reputation, though luckily not irrepairably. It would, however, take a mid-nineties return to basics and the adoration of a new generation of guitar bands to give them back the dignity that this outrageous desecration of everything the band stood for stripped away.

So what went wrong? First of all, during their late sixties - early seventies peak, the Who sounded like an invading army whenever they played live. Entwistle's divebombing bass, Moon's flailing drum assaults and Townshend's full-on power chords made sure of that. Yet here, even with Moon replaced by Simon Phillips, and the line-up complemented by a horn section, a percussionist, a lead guitarist, three backing singers and a keyboard player, they don't even come close to recapturing the heart-stopping intensity and raw energy of those classic middle-period gigs. Townshend plays mostly acoustic guitars and seems rather embarrassed by the whole thing. Secondly, there are the guest stars. Patti LaBelle is okay, Stevie Winwood is acceptable (as far as being a standard-issue white blues shouter goes), but Billy Idol, Elton John and especially Phil Collins are gut-churningly embarrassing. It just seems wrong seeing the Who playing second fiddle like this and inviting their peers, smirking and mugging, onto the stage to desecrate classic numbers. Finally, the arrangements of the songs, fleshed out to accomadate parping brass, squealing hair-metal guitar fills and - worst of all - sluggish rhythms (something Keith Moon was always a stranger to), are dismal at best. It sounds like a combination of Paul McCartney's dreadful 'Rockestra', the house band from a third-rate talk show and a Las Vegas function band attempting to let their hair down. Even Daltrey and Townshend's always fine vocals are buried beneath the bombast.

The sad thing is, the real Who are present and correct throughout, but you'd never know it if you closed your eyes. The accompanying album, 'Join Together', was a similarly depressing document of a thoroughly disheartening period in the history of a classic British band.

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