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Boomer Anthems: Won’t Get Fooled Again (Live, Shepperton Studios, 1978 )

Newly remastered, this is the definitive live performance of this giant architectonic hit. The audience consisted of only 300 hardcore fans imported for the filming. My suggestion for listening would be… later…  late at night with a beverage or a bong hit and then full screen and ramp speakers up to warp factor five.

[An aside: Once upon a time in London I was in a recording studio with Glyn Johns and Ethan Russell as The Who struggled to record a song from “Who Are You” whose title escapes me now (What can I say? Those were the days when everything was sort of, well, liquid.). The sessions had not been going well and they’d come in late and unprepared as usual. The only thing I really remember was a period of about an hour when everything was cued up and the band would count down and hit it. They’d get about 30 seconds into it and Johns would stop the tapes,  key his studio mike and say, “Nope. Not sold.” Johns was a hard taskmaster and declined to be fooled again. These days, me too.]

This was done for the film The Kids Are Alright and is notable for the close-ups of the faces and hands of the band, especially the great and demented Keith Moon’s cocaine-boosted last performance with the band.

BACKGROUND from somebody who was there: The 40th anniversary of The Who at Shepperton Studios

‘My Generation’ and Daltrey spun a wide arc microphone narrowly missing the top of Townshend’s head. Townshend slashed the strings of his guitar with wild, wild windmills until it looked like his arm was going to come off. Keith Moon -on what was going to be his last gig- drove himself behind the drumkit like a demon possessed. Entwistle didn’t move a fucking inch. And yet he appeared more potentially explosive than anyone else. His bass lines throbbed as if he were playing lead. His medieval face bore half-buried expressions of complete boredom and contempt for anything and anyone.

It was supposed to be over. That was it. The Who appeared to be unstrapping their instruments and now people like Pridden and Alan Rogan ran the stage. And then it started….like as if the synthesizer coda was approaching from another planet. I looked across at the estatic faces and caught sight of Bobby Pridden bobbing up and down like a Lord of the Knobs and shouting urgent instructions to someone behind him. And then it hit the entire Shepperton hangar like an unbelievable dream come true; that all-too-familiar synthesized coda every Who fan dreams of, looming larger than life as it gained impossible momentum. I’d seen and heard ‘Won’t get Fooled Again’ played many times before, but this……!

When it finished there was a kind of split-second stunned silence before we all clapped and roared ourselves hoarse. To give an idea of what it was like; even the normally blase film crew got up out of their stencil-backed seats and applauded. I shall always remember that day because of all the very many Who gigs I have been lucky enough to see, I don’t think I have ever seen the band come so close to its fans…..all 300 of us.

OTHER DETAILS: The Who 1977–78 performances

Although the complete performance has yet to surface, a longer set was reportedly played, including two versions each of “My Wife” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. The latter was played a second time when director Jeff Stein insisted on a more definitive ending, resulting in a drawn-out and explosive conclusion. Moon had experienced difficulties keeping up with the set, and shocked the band and crew by snorting a large amount of cocaine before the final rendition of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”; his drumming deteriorated towards the end as the effects of the cocaine wore off. This was the last time Moon played with the group.

[HT: Big Fur Hat]

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • tim November 26, 2019, 9:24 AM

    Baba O’Riley from that same session is pretty feeking good also –

    41 years ago! Wonder what, if any, present music will still be appreciated in 2060?

  • jwm November 26, 2019, 10:39 AM

    The wife is out of town and I have the place to myself.
    So I didn’t have wait until later.
    Other than that, I followed all the instructions.
    Now, THAT was rock n’ roll.
    The room’s still all dizzy.


  • ghostsniper November 26, 2019, 12:58 PM

    Here’s Entwistle sans all the distractions. He makes it look effortless, but go ahead and try it – them big ol’ cables will make your fingers cry like little gurlz.


  • Gordon Scott November 26, 2019, 2:49 PM

    I saw them about 12 years ago at the Xcel Energy Center in St Paul. It was electrifying, perhaps their finest set since Top of the Pops in 1968. I was close enough that Entwhisle’s sweat was flung onto me. Moon was spot on the whole show and Daltrey was….

    Well, no. We had been gifted tickets, and while we were not the furthest from the stage one could be, we were only two rows closer in the upper bleedingest section in the very back of the back. Moon was not there of course, and about two-thirds of the way through Roger’s bronchitis took him out of the lineup (“Me voice is fine, I can’t get any bleedin’ wind!”). Still, I got to see them live, once. Even if we were so far back that they looked like ants even on the jumbo screens.

  • Patvann November 26, 2019, 4:27 PM

    Took three tries to ramp-up, but the first rule was to be a Who.

    Meter says 121 Db @ 1 meter in front of the mains with one 2-chan Adcom 555.
    *lets do sum more.*
    9 channels of Adcom’s W/15″sub at 3 meters @ 110-126Db avg, with my legs up on a table, and a big “TV” in front.

    I turned it down. The insurance company is getting kinda weird with the glass replacements.

    I left the beer in the other room.

    The cats are not sure if the brick patio is enough, for


  • Patvann November 26, 2019, 4:32 PM

    The cats are not sure if the brick patio is enough of a safety zone.
    Doggeh is on the far side of the house.

  • David November 26, 2019, 5:45 PM

    Saw The Who last summer, and they did an acoustical version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”; just Pete on his guitar and Roger singing. I really wanted to see them rip the walls off with that one, but it was good nonetheless.
    Great show, by the way. They had a 50 piece orchestra backing them on a lot of the songs, but not all.
    There was a poignant part was toward the end of the show, as the band plays “The Rock” (instrumental) from Quadrophenia, and during this, the video screen off the stage played an historical montage of history since the band began in the 60’s. My wife kind of teared up watching that, it was really moving.
    The death of Elvis Presley, Keith Moon, John Lennon, John Entwhistle were part of that.
    Ended the show with “Baba O’Reilly”, and a beautiful young woman playing the fiddle in a really sheer skirt dancing around the stage. Wow. Roger gave her a big kiss at the end. She tours with the band. The orchestra was new for every venue they played at.

  • Dwight November 28, 2019, 1:49 PM

    Ian McLagan, keyboard player for The Small Faces and many others, wrote one of my favorite rock bios (All the Rage). He ended up marrying Keith Moon’s wife, and what Keith threatened to do to McLagan, as well as some of the things he did, definitely showed a dark side to the Moon. I’m sure those around Moon experienced actions like this often.