Posts Tagged ‘University of Leeds’

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When you think about the most important rock bands in history, The Who is undoubtedly in the conversation for many different reasons. One of those reasons is their incredible live performances – which they are still doing to this day.

Take a trip in the Iconic by Collectionzz time machine all the way back to 1970. The Who were looking for a way to follow up their 1969 album TommyThey had recorded several shows for a live album on tours supporting Tommy in the United States, but didn’t like the sound on any of the recordings. The Who decided to book two shows in early 1970 (on Valentines Day weekend) to record the live album. The first show at University of Leeds on February 14th, 1970 was planned to be the warm up show; and the second show at City Hall in Hull on February 15th, 1970 was planned to be the record. The recording equipment was rolling for both shows though, just in case.

According to The Who’s sound engineer, John Entwistle’s bass was not recorded for the first few tracks at Hull, and Pete Townshend didn’t even listen to the whole recording once he realized that. It didn’t matter though, they had made history the night before at the University of Leeds in front of 2,000 ravenous fans. Pete Townshend called it “the greatest audience we’ve ever played to.”

The Who released part of concert at University of Leeds on February 14th, 1970 as their now legendary live album “Live at Leeds.” It was the only live album that was released while the group were still actively recording and performing with their best known line-up of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon.

If Tommy announced the Who’s ascent to rock-band immortality, Live at Leeds was the headline’s exclamation point. The live album cemented their distinction as one of the world’s most powerful acts, yet it came together almost by accident.
The 1969 Tommy tour saw the Who performing to massive audiences across the globe, including a historic stop at Woodstock. Keenly aware of its popularity, and having seen the success of live albums from many rock contemporaries, the band decided to record its performances during the trek. By the end of 1969, the Who had recorded 30 shows in the U.S. and an additional eight in the U.K.

While the abundance of material seemed like a blessing at first, it was actually too much of a good thing. Poring through all the hours of music was a daunting task, one the band could not feasibly do considering the amount of time it would necessitate. Frustrated, Pete Townshend took a scorched earth approach; the guitarist instructed his audio engineer to burn all of the concert recordings. The Who would instead book two shows from which a live album would be constructed. Without the previous tapes to fall back on, the band was bravely performing without a net.

The group wanted to capture the ferocity of its live shows, something Tommy’s high-art concept had briefly taken them away from. “We were better known for doing Tommy than we were for all the rest of the stuff,” bassist John Entwistle noted in the book The Complete Chronicle of the Who. “I mean, all the guitar smashing and stuff went completely out of the window. We’d turned into snob rock. We were the kind of band that Jackie Onassis would come and see.”

The band planned one concert for February 14th, 1970, at the University of Leeds, with a second the following day in Hull. As fate would have it, the Hull performance was plagued with technical problems. Thankfully, the Who needed only the first show to make history.

The Leeds concert saw the band play more than 30 songs, including the earlier hit “My Generation” and almost all of the songs from Tommy. More than 2,000 students – many of whom had been lining up since 6AM that day – filled the capacity of the University’s refectory. Their energy was palpable.

“The students there were a great audience for us,” Roger Datrey later recalled to the BBC. “It was packed to the rafters and then some more. I heard there was a thousand fans on the roof!”

Keith Moon echoed similar sentiments. “We fed on the audience as much as they fed on us,” the drummer explained to the University’s student newspaper. “They were just too incredible.”

Though the Who initially planned on releasing a double live album from the set, they honed Live at Leeds to a powerful six-song LP. The track listing would go as follows: “Young Man Blues,” “Substitute,” “Summertime Blues,” “Shakin’ All Over,” “My Generation” and “Magic Bus.”

Originally released on May 23rd, 1970,Live at Leeds was quickly hailed as a triumph and has sealed its legacy as one of the Who’s best albums and one of the greatest live records ever made. The complete Leeds and Hull shows were eventually released on various expanded editions of the album.

In celebration of Live at Leeds’ 50th anniversary, Collectionzz is releasing officially licensed concert posters for the University of Leeds concert. The images feature the faces of Daltrey, Townshend, Moon and Entwistle cloaked by the Union Jack. The design also includes the Who’s trippy logo, psychedelic trim and original concert details. Two versions of the poster are available: a glow-in-the-dark edition and a black metallic edition. They go on sale May 15th exclusively through the Collectionzz website.

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Rock history took place on a university campus on this day 45 years ago. It may have been Valentine’s Day, but that was of little consequence when one of the UK’s greatest-ever rock bands took to the stage of the refectory of the University of Leeds. February 14, 1970 was the night that The Who recorded the performance that became their first live LP, described on release by the New York Times as the “best live rock album ever made,” ‘Live At Leeds.’

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University gigs and tours have always been a common part of the British live music circuit, although the Leeds campus was not one of the most regularly used. The Moody Blues played there, for example, during their early days as a rhythm and blues combo, in 1965, but it was one night with The Who that brought it to prominence.Two weeks later, Pink Floyd performed there; The Who returned to the venue later in the year, as did Floyd in 1971. Then the Rolling Stones also included it on the ‘Goodbye Britain’ tour that preceded their departure for tax exile status and the ‘Exile On Main St.’ album.

The Who’s already outstanding reputation as a live band in 1970 had been further enhanced by their appearance the previous summer at Woodstock. Their live set was now a fascinating mixture of their early mod days of R&B covers and material that had added to their growing status as exponents of conceptual rock.

Thus they delivered a set to the Leeds audience that still included their cover of Benny Spellman’s ‘Fortune Teller,’ as well as Mose Allison’s ‘Young Man Blues’ and Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘Eyesight To The Blind.’ But it also featured early hits like ‘I Can’t Explain’ and ‘Happy Jack,’ as well as an extensive run through Pete Townshend’s new ‘Tommy’ opus. A medley at the end featured ‘My Generation,’ ‘Magic Bus’ and others.

Who Live At Leeds Blue Plaque

 

Later in 1970, Roger Daltrey told the weekly music paper Sounds that he was very happy with the album. “It was one show and it was a very valid bit of plastic, you know. There was hardly anything dubbed on it – there were more things taken off than put on. Two backing voices were added, but that was only because the mike fell over. The whole thing is as it happened. We even pulled a lot of the crowd out because it was like, distracting to listen to.”

The ‘Live At Leeds’ album was released in May and made the top five in both the UK and US. In 2012, Who devotees finally had the chance to buy the recording of the band’s next gig, 24 hours after Leeds, on the ‘Live At Hull’ set. The Who had always intended to record this show to gather material for the original album, but sound problems meant that unless they were there at the time, fans had to wait more than 40 years to hear it.