The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982

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The Who Live at Shea Stadium

The Who: Live From Shea Stadium 1982 is reviewed here as a 3-album vinyl set from Mercury Studios that captures The Who on tour supporting the release of their then-new album “It’s Hard”.

This concert strikes a chord with me because I remember trying to get tickets to the concert but not being able to... Alas, now some 42 years (sigh) later, I'm at last able to say I was there... Thanks in part to the wonderful job Mercury Studios did bringing this album to market.

There are 23 songs in total that capture the energy of the band live, consisting of both new (at the time) and old songs, classic staples, and rare numbers as well that even a Who fan might say they haven't heard or listened to in years.

Recorded on October 13th, 1982, this tour would be the last full-scale tour The Who would do for 7 years and also marks the last with drummer Kenny Jones of The Faces, who was hired in 1979 to fill the shoes of Keith Moon after Keith's passing in 1978.

The lineup for this show was: Roger Daltrey - vocals, Pete Townshend - guitar/vocals, John Entwistle - bass, Kenny Jones - drums/percussion, and Tim Gorman - piano/keyboards.

Immediately upon hearing the first words of "Substitute," it was easy to tell that Daltrey's voice was in great form for this show. As you would expect, so was the playing of the whole band, for that matter... And to note, I have to say, for whatever the reasons were for Kenny Jones leaving the band, he played wonderfully throughout the show. I could easily have believed it was Moon behind the drum kit. The team manning the sound boards obviously did an excellent job of getting all the members of the band heard in a cohesive, clear sound. This was nothing to be taken lightly in an open-air stadium like Shea was, that was not built for live concerts and also open on one end, as well as in the flight path of LaGuardia Airport.

Add to that the fantastic job that was done with the audio restoration and mastering of this concert for this album, and you have a you-are-there experience.

The Who played 4 songs from the new album: "It's Hard," "Eminence Front," "Dangerous," and "Cry If You Want." It was hard for me to think of these songs as being new since I've been listening to them (especially "Eminence Front") for 40+ years, let alone all the other songs they played.

The album comes in a classic gatefold cover, which is kind of odd but not uncommon these days for a 3-album set... Not that it's terrible by any means, but it means 2 albums have to share one side of the cover. It would have been nice to see it in a tri-fold; then they might have been able to do a panorama shot of the audience if it existed, much the same way the "Woodstock" album was released... But that, as I said, was no big deal... More important and more enjoyable than that are the liner notes on both sides of the inside covers. These are well-written and very informative and do a great job of setting the stage for you, so to speak, for the concert you are about to listen to both the leading up to and the performance.


One thing became apparent when listening to this live album: you cannot forget that this is The Who we are talking about, so quite frankly, it needs to be played loud... and the louder, the better! As anyone who has ever seen them live will attest, this is no exaggeration. In fact, back in 1976, they were listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest band in the world (I believe they were recorded somewhere in the 126 dB range) ... and that was before the days when bands tried to be loud just to say they are the loudest to be cool. The Who were just the loudest because that’s the way they played their music. So, my recommendations here are: if you have the means and no neighbors, crank it up! If you do have neighbors, then crank it anyway; there’s something emotionally satisfying about having someone knock on your door and asking you to turn your music down!

Playing this album at low or even at “normal” listening levels loses something in the performance... it robs it of its energy... this is definitely not a background music kind of album.

There is something really special about the sound of a concert by a band such as The Who that is played outside in an open-air stadium that you don’t get in an enclosed arena, and this album set captures that wonderfully. It's that feeling of the sound just carrying on out from the speakers unconstrained and the audience noise, instead of being loud and pronounced, which often competes with the band’s music. Instead, because of the lack of echo, I suppose, it appears further away and “quieter” compared to the band’s sound. Don’t get me wrong; by quieter, I don’t mean they’re less into the music, not at all. I just mean that the audience noise doesn’t overshadow the music; it complements it, which I like very much. I can still feel/sense the excitement of the audience, but I am able to focus more on the music.

Apart from songs supporting their new album, there are so many great Who songs in this set, as well as a couple of other classics that were part of The Who’s live repertoire in the day, such as The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” and the venerable “Twist and Shout,” which closes the album.

I enjoyed all of the songs in this set, leaning most favorably towards "Baba O’Riley" and “Love Reign O’er Me” ... the piano and guitar on these songs were so good they stirred up old memories of when I was younger and heard these songs for the first time... soooo good! And the opening notes of "Pinball Wizard"... just pure awesomeness... and the segue from this song into “See Me Feel Me” ... just perfection.

While the sound of this set is very good and the audio restoration superb at being able to put you right there in the concert, this set is not for the audiophile. While there are things an audiophile would undoubtedly nit-pick at, they are irrelevant to me here. This album is for the Rock and Roll fan... the live concert-going Rock fan that goes home from a show such as this with ringing in their ears for 2 or 3 days afterward... and it just sounds so right to be on vinyl too!

Never more apparent to me than during the finale, when you’ve got the volume tuned up all the way... I can see in my mind’s eye, as clear as crystal, Pete’s trademark windmill guitar strokes... it's pure visceral Rock and Roll... on vinyl... the way it was meant to be... and all was right with the world again!



Record 1

            Side A

1. Substitute

2. I Can’t Explain

3. Dangerous

4. Sister Disco

5. The Quiet One

            Side B

1. It’s Hard

2. Eminence Front

3. Behind Blue Eyes

4. Baba O’Riley

Record 2

            Side C

1. I’m One

2. The Punk and The Godfather

3. Drowned

4. Tattoo

            Side D

1. Cry If You Want

2. Who Are You

3. Pinball Wizard

4. See Me Feel Me

Record 3

            Side E

1. Love Reign O’er Me

2. Long Live Rock

3. Won’t Get Fooled Again

            Side F

1. Young Man Blues

2. Naked Eye

3. I Saw Her Standing There

4. Summer Time Blues

5. Twist and Shout