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The Who (Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Kenney Jones)
Writing Credits:

This concert film features the show from the second of their two nights at New York's Shea Stadium and was filmed on October 13th 1982.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English LPCM Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 126 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 6/30/15

• Five Bonus Tracks
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982 [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 29, 2015)

Some folks believe the Who mounted multiple “farewell tours”. That’s not the case, as they only once claimed a tour would be their final outing: their North American jaunt in 1982.

Few viewed this as a suitable ending for a legendary band, so the 1982 tour went down as a disappointment to many. Does it deserve so much negativity? A new release called The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982 gives us a chance to re-evaluate.

Shot October 13, 1982 at New York’s Shea Stadium, the concert presented 25 songs, four of which came from the band’s then-current album It’s Hard: the title track, “Cry If You Want”, “Eminence Front” and “Dangerous”. 1981’s Face Dances offered “The Quiet One” and 1978’s Who Are You presented its title song and “Sister Disco”. Nothing from 1975’s The Who By Numbers appeared, but we got “Naked Eye” and “Love Live Rock” from 1974’s compilation Odd and Sods.

1973’s Quadrophenia boasted four tracks: “I’m One”, “Drowned”, “The Punk and the Godfather” and “Love Reign O’er Me”. Off of 1971’s Who’s Next, we found “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Baba O’Riley” and “Behind Blue Eyes”, while 1969’s Tommy delivered “See Me, Feel Me” and “Pinball Wizard”.

1967’s The Who Sell Out brought “Tattoo”, and we got two early singles: 1966’s “Substitute” and 1965’s “I Can’t Explain”. The other four songs – “Young Man Blues”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Summertime Blues” and “Twist and Shout” – offer cover versions.

As I mentioned earlier, the Who’s 1982 has become viewed as a limp “end” to a legendary band. I’d like to say that Shea will cause fans to re-consider that belief, but I can’t. While the band occasionally comes to life, this mostly feels like a pretty mediocre performance.

God knows I want to embrace the 1982 Who. My first-ever Who concert experience took place during this tour; they started here in the DC area, and I attended the second of those two shows.

Even at the impressionable age of 15, though, I didn’t find a lot about the 1982 Who to stand out as great. 33 years later, I barely remember anything about the concert other than the guy who offered my a toke on his joint. (I passed.)

If the real-live Who couldn’t fire up a kid excited to see them, what hope does the same band on video have 33 years later? That said, because I went into Shea with expectations lowered over the last three decades, it became possible I’d like the 1982 Who more in 2015 than I did back then.

Or maybe not. Don’t get me wrong: Shea doesn’t present a bad performance from the Who. However, nor does it provide a particularly good show from the Who. For this most part, this seems to be a band going through the motions and without the drive to bring the concert to life.

Exceptions do occur, primarily during a mid-show stretch that starts with a smattering of Quadrophenia tracks. Those fare well, and to my surprise, a stretched-out rendition of the then-new “Cry If You Want” turns into a highlight. The album version never did much for me, but this extended live take gives the song some oomph.

Otherwise, Shea feels fairly uninspired. Granted, the “mailing it in” Who of 1982 looks pretty good when compared with the bloated version we’d see in 1989. Mockingly known as ”The Who On Ice”, that tour lacked almost any connection to the wild, fiery band that became a legend. While less than scintillating, at least Shea offers glimpses of the “real Who”.

These occur too sporadically to make Shea a memorable show, though I think my opinion might’ve been somewhat different if I’d heard Shea and not seen it. While the songs fail to produce great sparks, the band doesn’t sound bad at all, and they can muster decent reproductions of the tracks.

It’s the visual side that creates a deficit. Much has been made of the Who’s New Wave-inspired clothes from 1982, but that’s not the big issue.

The major problem comes from how detached and disinterested the musicians seem. In particular, Pete Townshend often looks like he wants to be somewhere else. He provides the usual theatrics – the windmills, the leaps – but his heart doesn’t appear to be in it.

Roger Daltrey comes across as more invested, but he still lacks the charisma I’d expect. John Entwistle looks bored, but that’s his shtick, so it’s not a distraction. Kenney Jones actually fares best of the bunch, as he shows a real pulse. He doesn’t make anyone forget Keith Moon, but he acquits himself better than expected.

Shea also lacks much panache in terms of direction and visual presentation. While I’m happy it doesn’t subject us to rapid-fire cutting and not much post-production goofiness, I think it could show more flair than it does. This feels like it was taken straight from the stadium’s video monitors with no attempts made to create a fluid, compelling concert. We get the Jack Webb “just the facts” version of the concert.

All of these factors conspire to turn Shea into a serviceable document of the Who in 1982. Clearly it could show the band in a weaker light, but it also doesn’t remind us what made the Who legends. It’s an artifact for die-hards.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Should anyone expect great visuals from a concert videotaped in 1982? Nope, and Shea offered the bland image I anticipated.

Sharpness varied. Close-ups seemed acceptably accurate, but shots that went farther out than that started to encounter problems. For the most part, the image took on a soft, mushy appearance typical of old videotape.

At least the presentation largely lacked shimmering or jaggies. Guitar strings could show a little roughness, and clothes occasionally demonstrated mild strobing, but neither became a real distraction. The image didn’t show any obvious source flaws, as even the rolling video bars that often mar old video didn’t cause issues. A few blips popped up on occasion – primarily during “I Saw Her Standing There” – but these remained a minor factor.

The band wore fairly neutral colors, so the majority of the hues came from stage lighting, and that realm tended toward a yellow/green feel. Other tones appeared but yellow was the dominant impression. This gave the proceedings something of a sickly look that I felt went beyond basic stage lighting; the band members tended to look like they had jaundice.

Blacks seemed okay; they weren’t especially firm, but they didn’t appear too mushy either. Shadows were decent, as low-lit stage shots offered acceptable clarity. For its age and origins, this seemed like an average presentation.

I felt more pleased with the solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Shea. As one expects from a concert presentation, the soundfield remained focused on the front, where the music showed strong stereo imaging. Lead vocals appeared firmly set in the middle.

The instruments were accurately located and they demonstrated nice breadth and delineation. I could distinguish the various instruments with ease, as they were placed in a natural and clear manner. They also blended together smoothly to create a forward soundstage that consistently created a real and involving setting.

As for the surrounds, they mostly featured crowd noise. They added a little reinforcement of the music, but not to a substantial degree. The track didn’t go from any “free-form” use of the surrounds such as the presentation of specific instrumentation there. The soundfield went with a pretty standard concert approach.

Audio quality was generally pleasing. Vocals worked fine, as they replicated the desired impressions well. The rest of the track also showed good clarity and a dynamic tone. The instruments remained crisp and vivid during the concert. At times I thought bass response could’ve been a little deeper, as the track was marginally thin during some tracks. This wasn’t a true issue – more of a preference – so it didn’t detract terribly from the presentation. Taken as a whole, the audio worked fine.

The disc offers five bonus tracks. Taken from the prior evening’s concert on October 12, we get “Substitute” (2:54), “I Can’t Explain” (2:25), “My Generation” (2:34), “A Man Is a Man” (4:38) and “5:15” (6:49). I get the inclusion of the last three, as they don’t appear as part of the October 13 set. But why give us “Substitute” and “Explain” when they’re already part of the October 13 show? And why not give us “Athena” and “Magic Bus”, two October 12 songs not hear on October 13?

Finally, the package concludes with an eight-page booklet. This offers photos and an essay from Chris Roberts. The booklet acts as a decent finish to the set.

The Who’s 1982 tour has become oft-viewed as a lackluster excursion. While not without some good moments, Live at Shea Stadium 1982 does little to belie that impression, as fails to deliver the power and fire one wants from the Who. The Blu-ray brings us mediocre visuals along with pretty good audio and minor supplements. Who fans will be happy to own this disc, but it doesn’t present the band at their best – or anywhere close to that level.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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