Okay, maybe it didn't deserve an 8. Critics over the years had panned Quadrophenia in it totality choosing instead to praise certain singles from the opera. In all fairness the plot was somewhat vague and the movie really doesn't do it much justice. With rewrites, tweaking and the technological capability to finally do the show as it was originally envisioned the opera succeeds......as a psycho-drama. it was a psycho-drama all along but people wanted the "big finish" which in the movies case was a decked out scooter over a cliff. In the original opera it doesn't end there.
I saw the Quadrophenia tour in '97. The band wasn't much more than speck on the stage. I'll admit that I've been spoiled by punk rocks up close and personal venues. The staging was actually beneficial in that case because i was able to take in the entire presentation. i felt as if the DVD version of the tour end show did a great job tweaking my own memory of finally seeing my all time favorite band.
It mixes the show footage and the multimedia stuff quite slickly. I didn't particularly care that you only see the band from the waist up. Pete retired the boiler suit and Doc Martens years ago. All your missing is a sensible pair of running shoes.
As for "Tommy"....I've always liked the music though I thought that it was even more incoherent than "Quadrophenia". As I've gotten older I've appreciated the powerful emotions in songs like "Christmas" more as a dad. The father pleas of "Tommy can you hear me?" take on a heart rending urgency in this day and age of increased awareness of disorders like Autism and Aspergers syndrome.
However, the movie version from '75 really through a wet blanket over this whole thing for me. If you haven't seen it, it's an all star cluster fcuk. One clever wag pointed out the painfully obvious 1 and a half note range of Jack Nicholsons voice.
The live staging of this from 1989 goes along way towards correcting the miscarriage of justice that the movie did to the music. For me the high point of the DVD is Patti Labelle as the Acid Queen. Tina Turner was wonderful in the role. Patti Labelle was mind blowing. She actually out does Turner. Visually she is quite a presences in her almost hallucinatory dress and Matching hair-do. She brings a fiery passion to the lyrics that has an intensity thats breath taking.
Turner came off as a charlatan in the role. Labelle's version of the acid queen believes her own b.s.
The low point was the Hawker. I'm sorry but Steve Winwood has never convinced me of his sincerity. He was suppose to be a great blue eyed blues man. The trouble is I always felt he was singing from the heart so much that he forgot the guts and the testicles. Maybe it's just me but I felt his performance was bleached out and bland.
Elton John....excuse me Sir Elton John sashed onto stage last minute with the band uncertain he was even going to show. They were ready to do the part themselves when Elton John stormed the stage and stole the show. The only thing that would have improved his appearance would have been a 4 foot tall pair of Doc Martens.
I haven't mention Billy Idol gleefully chewing up the scenery in both productions. He just makes sense as Cousin Kevin. As the Ace Face he is extraordinary. When I saw his name in the credits at the store I rolled my eyes. But when i saw him in the roll.....evidently he thrives playing a roll nearly as well as Daltrey did.
All in all, my high marks maybe adoration for my favorite rock band. I often say that Quadrophenia saved my life. I can promise you this. The DVD set is well worth the money for rock fans and a pittance for fans of the Who.
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