I stayed up late last night watching the remastered DVD of The Kids Are Alright, which I treated myself to some time ago. I’d never seen any footage of The Who live before and I was completely taken aback. They were the kind of band that just get you grinning with joy when you watch them – Pete Townshend jumping around with a tambourine at the start of Won’t Get Fooled Again, Roger Daltrey swinging his mic all over the place, John Entwistle hardly moving and Keith Moon just bowling you over with his amazing, unrelenting animation.
I’ve managed to find a clip of the band performing Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere which gives you some idea of what I’m talking about.
Keith Moon is unbelievable all the way through the film, even in the scenes that were shot just a few weeks before his death. The early scenes of Moon are fantastic, particularly when they are playing I Can’t Explain – his facial expressions are brilliant. During the initial synth sequence in Won’t Get Fooled Again you can see Keith being completely absorbed in the music – he is waving his sticks all over the drums in time without actually hitting them. I have no idea how anyone could have so much energy!
The film starts with a scene from the Smothers Brothers show in 1967. Apparently the band used to have some pyrotechnics hidden in Keith’s bass drum that would go off as the show came to a climax and they had started to destroy their kit. As the TV studios in LA had (and still have?) very strict fire safety laws, the amount of explosive that was put in the drum during the rehearsal was feeble and according to Roger Daltrey it went off “like a wet fart”. Between the rehearsal and the proper show, Keith Moon managed to ply the studio pyrotechnic guy with alcohol and $300 – as a result the bass drum was loaded with four times as much explosive as it should have had! The result at the end of the set was Pete Townshend’s hair being set alight and the start of his long-term hearing loss, Roger Daltrey being thrown across the floor and Moon getting shrapnel in his arm!