May 16, 1970. The Who decide the best way to follow up their 1969 rock opera Tommy is with a live album. And boy, are they right.
I wrote about Live at Leeds for my Summertime ROCK series last year, and of course the seminal album landed on our list of Rock’s Greatest Live Albums (you won’t be surprised when you see where it ended up). So what else can be said about this vital album 50 years on?
It’s the simplicity of Live at Leeds that always blows my mind. It captures The Who at their absolute live peak, and it captures them as they were at the time: a four-man rock juggernaut. No backing musicians, no frills. Just Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle, and Moon. And the crowd wasn’t even mic’d up, so the focus throughout is on the performance and only on the performance.
Live at Leeds has, in recent years, been re-released as a sprawling, 33-song epic, but the original release was just LP: 6 songs, 37 minutes in change. Again, simplicity. Townshend mixed it, choosing only the best performances, not giving preference to hits or singles. It truly is a live masterpiece. Relive it below.