Veteran rock band The Who’s latest live recording Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 2004 is one of this year’s top new live recordings. The concert, originally recorded June 11, 2004 during the band’s headlining performance of the festivals’ second night, this recording is yet another standout performance from one of the greatest names in the musical universe today. That is evidenced in part through the concert’s 23-song set list. This will be discussed shortly. The band’s performance of said set list is just as important to discuss in examining this recording’s overall presentation, as the set list itself. It will be discussed later. The recording’s companion booklet rounds out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own way to the recording’s overall presentation. All things considered, this latest live offering from The Who proves, once again, to be one of this year’s top new live recordings.
The Who’s latest live recording Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 2004 is one of this year’s top new live recordings. That is due in part to the recording’s extensive set list. The 23-song set list is important to note for a variety of reasons beginning with its featured songs. The songs featured in this concert’s set list set it distinctly apart from the band’s 2015 live recording Live at Hyde Park (which like this recording, was also released via Eagle Rock Entertainment). Some of the songs in the two concerts’ set lists are the same. However, almost half of the songs featured in the Isle of Wight concert recording (nine songs in total), are not featured in the band’s Hyde Park concert recording. This is important to note because it gives the Isle of Wight Festival’s set list its own identity separate from that of the Hyde Park Show. More simply put, it means that this set list isn’t just a carbon copy of that previous set list, which will make any audience happy.
On a secondary level, the concert’s set list is important to note due to its sequencing. Thanks to the thought put into the set’s sequencing, the music’s energy rises and falls at all of the right points from start to finish. That is evident early on in the concert’s two-hour-plus (132 minutes total) run time. The concert starts off with full-on fire and energy, with that energy flowing through the set’s first four songs. Things slow down a little bit from there as the band moves into ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ before picking back up again in ‘Bargain.’ The song’s finale gradually slows down just enough to let audiences rest before the band launches into the much higher-energy ‘Baba O’Reily.’ The set’s energy stays relatively high from there as the band works through ‘The Punk and the Godfather’ and ‘5:15’ before pulling back for a little while in ‘Love Reign O’er Me,’ ‘Eminence Front,’ ‘Drowned’ and ‘Naked Eye.’ The solid sequencing and energy continues from there throughout the second half of the show, ensuring audiences’ continued engagement and entertainment.
On yet another level, audiences will be pleased to note that the set list presented in this concert is exactly the same both on DVD/BD as on CD. This is important to note because it was not the case in the Hyde Park performance recording. In the case of that recording, the set lists were slightly different between the DVD/BD side and CD side. Some of the songs included in the set list in that concert’s BD/DVD side were set aside in the CD side as “bonus tracks,” essentially breaking up the set for whatever reason. Luckily that wasn’t the case with this presentation. The set list for the Isle of Wight Festival concert is the same on both sides, maintaining a certain sense of continuity between the two sides. Considering this, it is one more way in which the recording’s set list proves to be integral to the recording’s overall presentation. Together with the songs themselves and their sequencing the three elements show in full why the concert’s set list is so important to the recording’s overall presentation. Even with this in mind, it should be noted that the set list is not the only important piece of the recording’s whole. The band’s performance thereof is just as important to note as the set list.
The set list featured in Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 2004 is clearly an important piece of this recording’s overall presentation, as has already been pointed out. It is not the recording’s only important element, though. The band’s performance of the set list is just as important to discuss in examining the recording’s overall presentation as the set list. Watching this concert, it is obvious that founding members Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend were both at least in their 50s if not their 60s. Yet neither man showed his age by any means. Rather both men performed with the fire that made them fan favorites in their youth. That includes not only the men’s performances of the songs but their interactions with the audience between songs. At one point, Townshend makes a joke about the sound not being turned up loud enough, referencing the old adage that if it’s too loud, you’re too old. At another point, he makes a joke about the age of the band’s audience, and how many were probably conceived at the band’s last Isle of Wight performance in 1970. Apparently Townshend, for whatever reason, served as the band’s mouthpiece between songs, saving the singing largely for Daltry, even though Townshend does get his moments in the spotlight. Staying on that train of thought, it should be noted that there is a little bit of foul language used between some of the songs, so viewer discretion is advised. Even with that in mind, the foul language is kept to a minimum, so it isn’t too bad. That being the case, the performances by Townshend and Daltry couples with those of their fellow musicians—Simon Townshend (guitars,vocals), Pino Palladino (bass), Zak Starkey (drums) and John Bundrick (keyboards)—to make for a performance from start to finish that will keep audiences completely entertained and engaged thanks to their collective energies. Considering that, it becomes clear why the band’s performance of the set list is so critical to the recording’s overall presentation. It is still not the last of the elements to be noted. The recording’s companion booklet rounds out its most important elements.
The set list featured in The Who’s latest live recording and the band’s performance of that set list are both critical to the recording’s overall presentation, as has already been noted. While both elements are clearly important to the recording’s whole, they are not its only important elements. The recording’s companion booklet rounds out its most important elements. The booklet is so important to discuss because of the history that it provides audiences. Audiences learn through Matt Kent’s liner notes that this festival performance marked the band’s first festival performance since it performed at Live Aid in 1985. They also discover that only two years prior, the band had lost fellow founding member, bassist John Entwhistle, and what followed. Other highlights are noted in those liner notes, setting the stage (no pun intended) for the performance contained within this set, along with lots more history that audiences will enjoy learning. Keeping this in mind, the information provided within the pages of the recording’s companion booklet proves to be just as integral to the concert’s overall experience as the concert’s set list and the band’s performance thereof. Considering all of this, it becomes fully clear that each element is critical to the recording. Of course there is still far more that could be noted including the recording’s production values (which are impressive in their own right), editing and more to evaluate the recording’s whole. Those elements solidify even more the recording’s place in this year’s list of top new live recordings, and a piece that any fan of The Who should have in his or her own music library.
The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 2004, is one of this year’s top new live recordings. That is evident through so many elements. From the set list to the band’s performance thereof to the recording’s companion booklet and even the concert’s production values and editing, so many elements serve to support that statement. Considering this (and even the concert’s availability on so many platforms and its average price point), this recording proves in whole that it deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new live recordings and why it deserves that spot. It proves, too, to be a recording that any fan of The Who should have in his or her music library. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 2004 is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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