There are many legendary rock shows floating around the airwaves but very few live up to the standard set by The Who as part of their mammoth show in Leeds back in 1970. Released by the band as a live album, aptly titled Live at Leeds, there’s one song in The Who’s set which hits particularly hard—’My Generation’.
The song which launched the band into stardom has hung around their live shows ever since and even sees inclusion to this day, despite their generation being largely pensioners. The track shone because of Pete Townshend’s lyrics and, of course, Roger Daltrey’s vocal but perhaps most importantly it was Keith Moon’s drums that provided the spine of the song.
Hailed as ‘Moon the Loon’ for his off-stage antics, the figure of The Who’s drummer Keith Moon is often more associated with his rambunctious behaviour away from music than his sparkling contribution to it. Being a part of one of the most influential bands of the 20th century doesn’t always cut it—just ook at Ringo Starr, for example.
The Who percussionist has always had a way of ruffling feathers. Whether offstage, where his notorious antics would see him drive cars into swimming pools put explosives in drum kits, and even pass out in the middle of shows or behind the kit where he refused to play the traditional way—but he’s been given a hard rap.
Like his counterpart in The Beatles, Moon was often overlooked for his talent purely because his style seemed to override everything he did. Not constrained by rigorous pattern or timing, Moon always let the music run through him and expressed himself as succinctly as he could. Or as Moon himself puts it, he is “the world’s best Keith-Moon-type drummer.”
This comes to the fore in the band’s live performances and in 1970, The Who were near the top of their game. Removed from the frenetic energy which propelled them into fame, the band had certainly tightened up. Yet Keith Moon still slings his sticks around like a cowboy. On the band’s rendition of ‘My Generation’ on that day, Moon was on fire.
Listening to the isolated drums of Keith Moon on that legendary day sees the drummer in imperious form. Slamming through the iconic track with the belief and authenticity of someone who had lived it all, it makes for captivating listening.
Listen below to Keith Moon’s isolated drums on ‘My Generation’ at The Who’s iconic Live at Leeds gig.