Pete Townshend

Live: The Fillmore

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Recorded live at the Fillmore on April 30, 1996, this excellent disc captures Townshend stripping his career back to just guitar and keyboards (contributed by the great Jon Carin), and then running through 21 songs that could almost be a live recounting of the Scoop series. It's a staggeringly intimate performance, with Townshend exuding a warmth that rarely comes across on disc, but which here could heat your house all winter. The set is, as usual with Townshend's live outings, remarkable for its variety: anybody who has been patiently collecting his self-released live CDs will know by now that there's really no such thing as a surprise any longer, just songs that you never expected to hear him perform. "A Legal Matter," "Rough Boys," and a tremendous"I Put a Spell on You" are the strongest contenders for that honor on this night, although the roar that greets "I'm a Boy" proves that Townshend isn't the only person who reckons history often overlooks that song -- remember, without the proto-opera that he intended building around this tragic tale of juvenile cross-dressing in 1965, he might never have had the courage to create Tommy; speaking of which, how nice it is to go through an entire concert without the deaf, dumb and blind boy staggering into view and bumping into tables. Not until the last leg of the set does he even get considered, when Townshend unleashes a sharp "Eyesight to the Blind," and that's it for Tommy. "Won't Get Fooled Again," too, is conspicuous by its absence, but an energetic "Magic Bus" more than makes up for that.

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