The Who - The Vegas Job


Reviewed by: David Stanners

For somebody with little knowledge beyond The Who's Greatest Hits, their reunion concert in Las Vegas, 1999, should strike a grand chord. Featuring the late John Entwistle, in his final live performance, and Zak Starkey, Ringo's son, on drums, the band racks up their best hits in whirlwind style - less than 90 minutes - as part of a charity concert, backed by what was to become the ultimate fictitious global multimedia phenomena - the legal fiasco.

With more break-ups than British railway lines, The Who are regarded by many as the best live band on the planet. With a tumultuous history spanning five decades, they have tried and tested, for better or worse, the indispensable roller coaster lifestyle that goes hand in hand with rock-and-roll.

From the very start in the Sixties, their talent and underlying appeal was the collaboration of highly individual styles: Daltrey on vocals carried charm, looks, charisma and menace; Townshend on lead guitar leapt into thin air, spinning his arm in windmills and making a ceremony of smashing his guitar; Keith Moon, when he wasn't tripping over them, carried the beat on drums brilliantly and with measured chaos; John Entwistle was the enigmatic eye in the storm, standing aloof, strumming the bass, patiently watching and waiting for Townshend's nod toward improvisation.

With the sudden loss of Moon and increasing divergent styles, particularly between Townshend in the experimental camp and Entwistle and Daltrey in the traditional rock camp, the band have sunk, swum and risen to the surface time and time again, some say for money - particularly their later US tours - and yet, regardless of the hums and grunts from dissenting press, few can deny the sonic energy of their live performances.

If the Vegas Reunion is somewhat muted, compared with the early days of smashed guitars and busted drum kits, hairlines have receded and maturity set in. Yet, this detracts nothing from their mood, particularly as a fit, tanned Daltrey gyrates from side to side, still full of verve and youthful swagger.

Starting with I Can't Explain, their programme mixes the raucous sounds of Pinball Wizard and My Generation with slow burners, like See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me and classics, such as The Kids Are Alright, Who Are You?, Substitute and 5:15, which celebrates the subtlety of Entwistle's playing.

His premature death in June 2002 put a final cap on their plans to tour America again. The Vegas Reunion, however, proves that 30 years on, The Who's talent is perennial and their live performance the greatest testimony to that.

Reviewed on: 22 Nov 2003
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The Who’s reunion in Las Vegas, 1999.
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Starring: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Zak Starkey

Year: 1999

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US


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