The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight 2004 Festival (Eagle Vision)

The Who
Live at the Isle of Wight 2004 Festival
(Eagle Vision)

The packaging will tell you that The Who delivered an incendiary performance that “lived up to the fan’s expectations and memories of 1970.”

Well … God love publicists.

That 1970 Isle of Wight concert was one for the ages. It’s not been duplicated or replicated by The Who or anyone, in my opinion. The 2004 Isle of Wight festival appearance was admirable. It’s the first time the band played in their home country since the death of founding member and bassist John Entwistle. His absence is felt.

Many fans took the band to task for continuing without Keith Moon and their recorded and stage output was much different with Kenney Jones behind the drum kit. With Entwistle gone, the band shifted their approach again and seemingly focused on reproducing their album tracks as closely as recorded instead of muscling them out under new arrangements as a 4-piece (with the occasional keyboardist in tow).

The new lineup is essentially a cover band and that’s not a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t tarnish their legacy. Front man Roger Daltry and guitarist Pete Townshend are augmented by a who’s who of support players, including longtime live keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick. Yet, the band doesn’t have the oomph that the stellar Entwistle/Moon rhythm section brought. This 2004 performance at Isle of Wight sounds great, but is a bit anemic by comparison to what we know.

For many, The Who ended when Keith Moon didn’t wake up on September 7, 1978. For others, Entwistle’s death on June 27, 2002 marked the final chapter. Theirs is definitely a case where the whole of the original lineup was greater than the sum of its parts.

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