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Published: 2016/10/02

Pete Townshend - _Face the Face_

Life after The Who never really happened for Pete Townshend likely the way he had intended. If the clock could be dialed back to the first few years after the group’s 1982 farewell tour, it would find the guitarist in the middle of an active solo career as it does on the DVD/CD set Face the Face. Borrowing the title from a hit song on Townshend’s 1985 concept album White City: A Novel, this collection shows Pete as soul man. With his extended Deep End band of 17 musicians, including a 5-piece horn section, five background singers, Simon Phillips on drums, and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on guitar, Townshend seems liberated leading the troupe through a big band brassy redux of Who classics like “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” and “Pinball Wizard.” He also dips into the finest of his solo catalog- “Slit Skirts” and “Rough Boys”- and that of his old Who mate Roger Daltrey (“After the Fire”), while giving Gilmour a song of his own (“Blue Light”), as well. The DVD was filmed as part of the well-known German TV series Rockpalast, and is mixed and shot nicely for the era. There are the expected visual clues that date this 1986 show- the horn section in sunglasses and suits without ties is one dead giveaway- and the arrangements, while enriched in Townshend’s songwriting, at times lean into the synth sound of the decade despite the musicians onstage. Sticking often to his acoustic, as he would for much of The Who’s ’89 reunion, Townshend cedes to Gilmour to pull the heavy duty guitar chores. It’s a pleasure to hear Gilmour and his distinctive tone crossover to this material, joining the history of two of rock’s bigger stars. 30 years later, Face the Face ends up as the pause between Pete Townshend’s stints with The Who, with a little regret that this band and this creative period couldn’t have lasted a little longer.

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