The Who: The Vegas Job has the best backstory to not be featured on a DVD. According to the back cover copy, this concert was part of a large event in October 1999. An internet technology company organized a day-long concert under the claim that they'd be broadcasting the entire thing to the computers of a billion people around the world. The Who hadn't played together in three years, and so it was going to be a triumphant kick-off to a whole new, five-piece incarnation of the band. (Fans of Pete Townshend who have followed his Lifehouse concept over the years will instantly see how this world-wide, direct-to-your-homes broadcast would have appealed to him.) Little did anyone know that the company running the show was ahead of the "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" curve. Their technology was a scam, and the show was neither seen nor heard anywhere beyond the concert venue*. It makes that performance of "Won't Get Fooled Again" seem kind of ironic.
The summary reads like there is a great story to be told, but sadly, one that is never even broached on the DVD itself. None of the features on the disc mention the post-concert fallout. Thankfully, even with the intriguing set-up dropped from the main attraction, The Who: The Vegas Job is well worth watching for Who fans. Their fourteen-song set is incredible.
The version of the Who that takes the stage was to be their definitive concert line-up for the next several years. Having dropped the ornate brass section and the interactive backdrops once and for all, they went back to the essentials: Roger Daltrey on vocals, Pete Townshend on guitar, and John Entwistle on bass are joined by Zak Starkey on drums and John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards. For this short set, the band chose to only perform hits, mostly in chronological order, starting with "I Can't Explain" and going up to "Who Are You" before capping the show with a loose-fit, bluesy "Magic Bus" and the aforementioned "Won't Get Fooled Again." The encore was a sweetly sentimental "The Kids are Alright" and a blistering "My Generation."
The band is in fine form. Townshend is playing an electric guitar, something he hadn't been doing much of on the previous Quadrophenia tour, and Starkey continues to prove he is the only drummer who can even come close to following the late Keith Moon. Sometimes Daltrey falls a little behind, his voice isn't in fighting shape just yet, but he warms up as the concert progresses. The sweet spot is in the middle, the one-two of a muscular "5:15" and the emotionally ragged "Behind Blue Eyes." We are even treated to some of Roger and Pete's snarky on-stage bickering.
For a show that turned out to be a rip-off, the sponsors didn't skimp on the production. The Vegas Job is a surprisingly well-shot video production. There is a ton of coverage, including overhead crane shots that sweep in over the audience. The final product is just as good as any of the recent releases of Who concerts from the last ten years that were filmed exclusively for home video release, and given the power of the no-frills setlist, maybe one of the better. It's also one of the last to have Entwistle, and it's great to see the Ox in fine form.
The full setlist:
* One reader has e-mailed to note that the DVD box exaggerates a little. Apparently, some people could view the stream, but it was a very limited number.