Pete Townshend: David Redferns/Retna
Chris Willman
September 03, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970

Current Status
In Season
Murray Lerner

We gave it an A

If NASA were to ship one concert DVD into space to teach distant galaxies what rock & roll is, The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970, a document of rock’s greatest live band at their arguable peak, might be first choice for blastoff. Despite some technical crudeness (John Entwistle sings lead on the opening number…off camera!), Murray Lerner’s filmic rendering effectively captures the artful thrashing that made 600,000 sleep-deprived Brits forget it was the middle of the night.

EXTRAS A fascinating new 40-minute interview, conducted by Lerner, begins with a typically ornery Pete Townshend declaring he ”really didn’t like working with that band at all” — before he acknowledges that they ”were in good shape, at the time.” He also describes how his stage moves were meant to underscore the electric guitar ”as an instrument of control, aggression, and latent violence.” Given that a certain rock opera constitutes the set’s second half, it lends the phrase ”tommy gun” new meaning.

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