Not the first but arguably the best, The Who's Tommy stands as one of the definitive rock operas of all time. The term "rock opera" entered popular culture with this album about a blind, deaf and dumb boy. The Who's follow-up Quadrophenia took the operatic storyline to a greater depth, following the life and times of a burnt out Mod. Pete Townshend tried for years to take an album to the status of Tommy and Quadrophenia but never quite got it the same.
This DVD collection brings to Who fans, in superior sound and video quality, live performances of these two rock operas. The performances are chock full of guest stars including Elton John, Patti Labelle, Phil Collins and Billy Idol. Recorded during reunion tours, the whole package is missing a crucial element, Keith Moon. Moon had died a few years earlier and while the remaining members of the Who look to be having a good time and are in top form, they just don't feel like a complete band.
Both Tommy and Quadrophenia are performed in smaller concert halls, the stuffy seats of an opera house don't feel like rock and roll, but most of the fans in attendance are there to watch the show, not be a part of it.
The special guests bring out their A game but aren't able to compete with Roger Daltrey's powerful vocals, Townshend's amazing acoustic flourishes and the late John Entwistle's dizzying bass work.
The DVD is a great set for fans of each album, but a third disc offers up a "greatest hits" set that demonstrates the power of the Who's best songs. Even though they do not stand as the band they once were, Tommy and Quadrophenia: Live is a great testament to an incredible rock band.