31 January 2014

"This is a group that will destroy you completely in more ways than one"

Live footage of The Who performing in June 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival in California, taken from D.A. Pennebaker's concert film, Monterey Pop. The film shows the Who performances of Substitute, the rock operetta A Quick One (While He's Away) and My Generation, but omits Pictures Of Lily and Happy Jack, footage of which appears not to have been included in the film.

With the set sandwiched between the Buffalo Springfield and the Grateful Dead, the film also conveys the aggressive, confrontational energy of The Who in the face of the prevailing hippy ethos of the Summer of Love. Famously, the set ends with Pete Townshend destroying his guitar and Keith Moon knocking over his drumkit. It's entertaining to see the American stage crews, who were presumably well aware of the anarchic reputation of the band, dash on to rescue the microphones. These days more people probably remember the Jimi Hendrix Experience and specifically the set-closing performance of Wild Thing, in which Hendrix doused his guitar with lighter fluid and set it alight. Both The Who and Hendrix had planned their destructive exploits beforehand. Neither wanted to play after the other out of mutual respect, but Hendrix lost a coin toss and had to perform after The Who. No-one minded - the outrageous stage performances sealed the American fame of both The Who and Hendrix.  

Pennebaker's film captures a great performance, but it's noticeable that Who bassist John Entwistle is almost absent from Pennebaker's edit. He was famously inexpressive on stage, particularly in comparison to his hyperactive Who bandmates, but you can still hear Entwistle's marvellous bass runs in the murky mix, and enjoy his backing vocals.

See also:
Music: Monkees - You Just May Be The One, 10 September 2013
Music: Grass Roots - Bella Linda, 23 June 2013
Music: Lo-o-o-o-ng songs, 11 June 2008
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