If I could go back in time and see any band live during any period of their existence it would probably go as follows:
1) Genesis, 1972-1975
2) Pink Floyd, 1969-1972
3) Van Halen, 1978-1982
4) King Crimson, 1972-1974
and of course,
5) The Who, 1968-1970
For my money The Who were at their absolute peak live on those tours. This clip of the band playing “Young Man Blues” at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 is proof. To me this was their high water mark as a live band. Footage I’ve seen from tours after that did not seem to have the electricity of the 1969-1970 tours. Perhaps it was success. Perhaps it was changing musical styles. Perhaps it was age. But whatever it was while they still produced power and volume live, they never quite had the raw energy that they had in 1970.
With the probable exception of Cream, no band could match their nstrumental ability. Townshend is an above average guitar player, Keith Moon was one of the top two or three drummers of all time, and John Entwitstle was easily the best bassist in rock and roll history. If you don’t believe me listen to the second video. It’s his bass part to “Young Man Blues” isolated.
And just for good measure here is the drum track!