Every good magician knows never to do their best trick twice. But no one told The Who.“Turn the fucking sound up, it’s only once every three thousand fucking years,” says Pete Townshend, glancing out at the crowd of 50,000 at the band’s 2004 return to the Isle of Wight festival, and noting that an estimated 650,000 people watched their legendary 1970 IoW set.“Most of you were probably started here,” he quips.
This time they (arguably) dazzle even more than in 1970, as the musclebound prog pop of Who Are You? comes on like Atlas having a crack at rock’n’roll and Baba O’Reilly boasts God’s power chords and a Benny Hill hoedown outro. To “give what’s left of the ears a rest,” a solo Townshend gorgeously throttles an acoustic on Drowned. But it’s the fiddlier, multi-faceted overtures of Quadrophenia and Tommy that dominate: 5:15 rattles riotously down the tracks, Love Reign O’er Me hits like a flash flood, and Daltrey smashes tambourines through Sparks. Won’t Get Fooled Again stampedes in early, and it all ends with a savage skiffle blues row over ownership of the Magic Bus.