Live At Shea Stadium 1982

The Who

Eagle Rock, 2024

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


In case you didn’t pick up the 2015 DVD of this show, the audio version of it was released in early 2024, perhaps to promote some upcoming shows that the still-living half of the band has booked. I can’t imagine another reason to delay it for nine years, except perhaps for the lack of public demand for yet more live Who.

The concert was recorded at the legendary baseball venue where both the Beatles and the Mets played once upon a time, early in the band’s first farewell tour. At the time, of course, it was supposed to be their actual farewell tour; Pete Townshend said the band would break up when it ended. This was a bit of a relief to those who felt the band should have ended when Keith Moon died and the lackluster Who Are You came out; at least their recorded career would have ended on the high note of the title track.

But we had to endure two more albums, with Kenney Jones filling in at the kit, and these are generally uninspired affairs, only redeemed somewhat by the live setting. The band plays several songs from It’s Hard, giving them a little more life than the studio versions, as well as the expected selection of greatest hits.

Of those, despite their familiarity, the bravura performances of “Love, Reign O’er Me” and “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” are a hell of a way to say goodbye. Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle knew their time had passed; rather than turn into the Rolling Stones and try to keep going, they went the route of Led Zeppelin (eventually, and only for a while) and called it a day. Knowing that, they stood proud on their body of work, rarely sounding tired or bored throughout the two-hour show (with the exception of some of the Tommy stuff that had been played to death).

There are few surprises; the best is a long version of the Quadrophenia deep cut “Drowned,” with extended guitar and harmonica solos. A take on The Who Sells Out deep cut “Tattoo” is welcome also, if not necessarily a great song. The band also plays the non-hit single “Long Live Rock,” and when one hears Daltrey repeat “Rock is dead” three times about halfway through, you wonder if he really means it (considering where music was in 1982). To prove that it never was, I think, the band tears into “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and its epic scream directly after, to close out the main set.

The encore is interesting; the band digs deep into its archives for performances of “Summertime Blues” and “Young Man Blues,” an unreleased Lifehouse track called “Naked Eye,” and then two Beatles songs in an apparent homage to the venue location (“I Saw Her Standing There” and “Twist And Shout,” which was of course written by the Isley Brothers but is played the way the Fab Four did).

For those who feel the Who’s best work was pre-Tommy, this closing set is as good as gold, stripping away the keyboards and bloated song length and concept-album pomp and just rocking like four young pissed-off Mods. Although Moon was of course one of a kind, Jones acquits himself well here. It’s not a must-own live album (Live at Leeds will forever have that distinction, and not just for The Who), but it’s a solid document of a legendary, influential band saying goodbye on their terms.

Rating: B

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