Live at Shea Stadium, 1982 is a very special Who document, entertaining and inspiring on many levels. So allow this writer a little artistic license to give you an overview of this classic moment in rock and roll history, beautifully filmed, restored and packaged by Eagle Vision.
The late Jo Jo Laine said “I was with Keith Moon the night that he died.” It was, of course, the infamous Buddy Holly film preview of September 6, 1978 after the release of the group’s lp Who Are You. With Moon diminishing and the Who not as energetic – 1975’s “Squeeze Box” a true low for the artist, the antithesis of the brilliant “Join Together,” the foursome was already, in this critic’s mind, moving far from the magic. Moon’s passing on September 7 was the line in the sand.
Throughout any tragedy survivors must move on, and like Ron Wood joining the Rolling Stones, Kenny Jones joining the Who was more about camaraderie than actual chemistry. This writer has always felt that putting Kenny Jones, a pretty much straightforward, no-nonsense drummer, into a reckless locomotive like The Who was akin to asking the drummer from Ambrosia to replace Ginger Baker and join Cream; to ask the drummer from Wayne Newton to replace Mitch Mitchell in the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Roger Daltrey’s many quotes back-up my assessment: ““I just felt that Keith was such an extraordinary drummer, to try and replace him was just ridiculous,” Daltrey recalled in 1994. “We just filled the gap and pushed it back into the same slot with a drummer who was quite obviously the completely wrong drummer. I’m not saying he’s a bad drummer. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy. I didn’t dislike the guy, but I just felt he wasn’t the right drummer for the Who. It’s like having a wheel off a Cadillac stuck onto a Rolls Royce. It’s a great wheel but it’s the wrong one.”
Which is why Live at Shea Stadium 1982 is such a knockout. It is Kenney Jones moment of redemption with The Who, it is an amazing concert where, no – he’s not Keith Moon – but the music translates in a way that the Who failed to match at the 2010 Superbowl XLIV and many other shows since. Townsend and Daltrey can transcend the loss of Moon and Entwistle to some degree, but what this writer witnessed in 1973 at the Music Hall in Boston was utterly amazing, and that magic would be impossible for almost any band to match in any universe or dimension.
Yes, they were thinner and younger, and, yes, the tour was the last for some time, so the musicians and the filmmakers gave us something for the ages proving “it’s the singer AND the song, that makes the music move along” adding a little perspective on Daltrey’s emphasis on singer in the song “Join Together.” That title isn’t here, sadly, but there is plenty to absorb and this video has played a couple of dozen times before I could get a grasp of its majesty. The camera work is stunning, the moment in time important, and the publicist’s notes have some added insight for you to peruse: “The Who’s 1982 tour, which was all in North America apart from two warm-up dates at the Birmingham NEC in England, was their last to feature Kenney Jones on drums and the band did not tour again until 1989. The tour promoted the recent IT’S HARD album, which had been released in June 1982, and the set list included a number of tracks from that album, some of which the band would only play live on this tour. This concert film features the show from the second of their two nights at New York’s Shea Stadium and was filmed on 13 October 1982.”
It’s not the definitive WHO DVD, but for those outside the fan base, it is most satisfying and a welcome addition to the collection. Something Kenney Jones can proudly hold up and say that the goods were delivered all the way around. Nice 8 page booklet comes with the package.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.