The Who at Woodstock
|Performed on||Day 2|
|Started at||5.00 am, Sunday, 17th|
|Played for||65 min.|
|Festival Day Chronology|
|Prev. artist||Sly & The Family Stone at 3.30 am|
|Next artist||Jefferson Airplane at 8.00 am|
The Who were scheduled as the second to last act (before Jefferson Airplane) to play on Saturday, August 16th. When they actually started playing it was already Sunday morning around 5:00. They played their exceptional Tommy album, a Rock Opera dealing with the struggle of a deaf, dumb and blind boy who later finds a cure and gains stardom with his messianic movement. The finale of this performance took place during sunrise which occured at 6:05 am.
- Roger Daltrey - vocals
- Pete Townshend - guitar, vocals
- John Entwistle - bass, vocals
- Keith Moon - drums
- Heaven and Hell
- I Can't Explain
- It's a Boy
- Amazing Journey
- The Hawker
- Acid Queen
- Pinball Wizard
- Do You Think It's Alright?
- Fiddle About
- There's a Doctor
- Go to the Mirror!
- Smash the Mirror
- I'm Free
- Tommy's Holiday Camp
- We're Not Gonna Take It
- Summertime Blues
- Shakin' All Over
- My Generation
- Naked Eye
The Who were touring in support of their rock opera album Tommy which was released the same year. The Woodstock performance is not as long as others during this period but powerful and insane given the time The Who were performing. Songs not played from the album are: "Overture", "Cousin Kevin", "Underture", "Tommy, Can You Hear Me?", "Miracle Cure", "Sensation", "Sally Simpson", "Welcome".
The setlist is a pretty standard example of their 1969 tour program, just a little shortened at times. For instance they didn't play "A Quick One While He's Away", "Magic Bus" or a longer medley around "My Generation" which sometimes reached a length of 15 minutes. Nevertheless the presentation of the chosen songs was impressive and the magic and spirit of the music grew as Tommy reached its grande final with "See Me, Feel Me". The dawn was coming up and the first daylight hit the stage. The Who closed with "My Generation", an old hit dating back to the year 1965, and "Naked Eye". There were only a few sleepless people in the audience left who finally witnessed the ritual guitar smashing of Pete Townshend pointing out that the gig has really come to an end.
The Abbie Hoffman Incident  was an incident that happened during The Who's set right after the song "Pinball Wizard". Abbie Hoffman was able to get on stage and grab a microphone while Pete Townshend tuned his guitar. He said: "I think this is a pile of shit! While John Sinclair rots in prison...". Hoffman was protesting against the imprisonment of John Sinclair (leader of the White Panther Party and manager of the left-wing hard-rock band MC5) who had been convicted and sentenced to nine years of prison because of marijuana possession. Townshend, angry that someone took the stage, yelled: "Fuck off! Fuck off my fucking stage!", hit him with his guitar and sent him off stage again. Townshend then added: "I can dig it!"; And after the song "Do You Think It's Alright?": "The next fuckin' person that walks across this stage is gonna get fuckin' killed! [crowd cheers] You can laugh, I mean it!". A 16 second sound bite of the incident can be heard on The Who compilation set entitled Thirty Years of Maximum R&B (Disc 2, Track 20, "Abbie Hoffman Incident").
At the end of their set, Pete Townshend tossed his banged-up Gibson SG guitar into the crowd, but according to The Kids Are Alright DVD liner notes the guitar was promptly retrieved by one of the band's roadies. Close inspection of film from both the Woodstock movie and the bonus DVD from the 40th anniversary issue confirms that.
"The Hawker" (written by Sonny Boy Williamson II) is the original name of the song "Eyesight For The Blind" as it appears on later issues of the album Tommy.
Like a few other artists performing at Woodstock, The Who had played two years earlier at the Monterey Pop Festival.
A soundboard tape of The Who's complete performance is available. Almost the entire set was also recorded on black and white film. Official releases containing single songs include:
- 1970: Woodstock I
- 1979: The Kids Are Alright (Soundtrack)
- 1994: Woodstock - Three Days of Peace and Music
- 1994: Best of Woodstock
- 2009: Woodstock: 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm
- 2019: Woodstock Festival 1969
- 2019: Woodstock - Back to the Garden