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Warner Home Video presents
The Who: Live in Boston (2004)

I only swear at people I love. So f***-off all of you!
- Pete Townshend

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: September 29, 2004

Stars: Pete Townshend (lead and rhythm guitars, lead vocals), Roger Daltrey (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Zak Starkey (drums), Simon Townshend (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), John "Rabbit" Bundrick (keyboards), Pino Palladino (bass)
Director: Jonathan Beswick

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (strong language)
Run Time: 02h:01m:01s
Release Date: September 14, 2004
UPC: 603497034826
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Upon first glance at the cover for The Who: Live in Boston, there is no denying the sadness. Like many longtime fans, the familiar site of late bass master John Entwistle in his usual businessman-like pose of looking to stage left (or in the direction of Roger and Pete) has become second nature, almost to the point of taking him for granted. Though time has softened the blow to a point, his absence continues to leave a void.

Just as they did in the wake of Keith Moon's also untimely passing, Daltrey and Townshend soldiered on. Risking ridicule and subjecting themselves to claims of greediness following such a tragedy by forging ahead with their first tour in five years, the remaining members of one of rock's greatest bands took their legacy out on the road once more, and wound up with some of the best reviews of their career.

Backed by longtime keyboard sideman John Bundrick and recent additions Zak Starkey on drums (son of Richard "Ringo" Starkey, MBE), Simon Townshend on backing vocals/rhythm guitar (Pete's little brother) and Pino Palladino on bass (who wisely doesn't try to recreate the trebly attack of Entwistle and winds up being a terrific addition to the band under precarious circumstances), the sextet perform a set that's a wonderful concoction of rarities, and time-tested warhorses offering ample proof why fans and critics walked away raving.

Following a low-key, bombast-free entrance onto an intimate, fan-friendly stage, all it takes are the opening power chords of I Can't Explain bursting from Townshend's speakers and its almost like Live at Leeds all over again, but not in a nostalgic sense. Unlike tours of recent vintage that featured too many musicians (the Tommy 25th anniversary trek comes to mind) that sometimes threatened to overshadow the core members, Townshend and Daltrey perform with renewed commitment to their material. Instrumentally, I don't think Pete's played this strongly in eons (check out his stabbing attack on Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere and the jazzy playout that closes 5:15). As for Roger, his occasional flat notes and rustiness at the Concert for New York a few years back gave me reason for worry. But like all the great rock vocalists who skillfully adjust their aging vocal chords and don't try to act like they're 22 all over again, he pulls off some amazing performances, particularly on Baba O'Reily, the eternally powerful My Generation and the suite of Tommy classics presented as encores (including Pinball Wizard and See Me, Feel Me).

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: If not for the lack of anamorphic enhancement, this would be a shoo-in for an A+. Despite the low-key atmosphere of the staging (an overhead set of lights that spell out the group's name is one of the few frills), detail is excellent and the clarity of the picture achieves an almost three-dimensional look at times.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Two soundtracks are offered in PCM Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1. Rather than easily dismissing the former as usual, I must say that the two-channel version is strikingly warm and surprisingly pleasing (words you don't ordinarily associate with The Who). Still, it's no match for the all-encompassing advantages approach of the multi-speaker mix that aside from adding more presence and more bottom in the lower frequencies, it gives the instrumentation and Daltrey's vocals more of a chance to breathe.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Pete Townshend Interview
  2. Roger Daltrey Interview
  3. John Entwistle Art Gallery
Extras Review: Two of rock and roll's best and most articulate interviewees are at their best in fresh conversations recorded especially for this DVD. Daltrey (08m:20s) is surprisingly emotional and reflective in his thoughts toward his departed friend and how the kinship between the group and their fans played a major part in deciding to forge ahead with their 2002 tour despite an intensely personal loss.

Townshend (14m:03s) remains as brash as ever in a wide-ranging chat (with his legendary Hiwatt amplifier gear in the background) covering his initial reaction to Entwistle's passing, pride at how the band's chemistry resulted in stellar performances on their recent tour, humorous thoughts on female Who fans, and how his ongoing creative conflicts with Daltrey hasn't dimmed one iota.

A wonderful tribute to Entwistle is included via a stills gallery of his impressive artwork depicting his fellow bandmates—including the wonderful connect-the-dots artwork on the classic Who album, The Who By Numbers—and peers such as some delightful visuals of Stones' guitarist Ron Wood, Elton John (as superhero "Reg the Rocket"), and the legendary Jimi Hendrix.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

The Who are in no danger of fading away or burning out anytime soon, judging by their stellar performance on Live in Boston. Combined with stellar sound and two terrific, informative bonus interviews with Townshend and Daltrey, this belongs right alongside The Kids Are Alright on your DVD rock rack.


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