Sunday, February 07, 2010

Who's Left Meet the Superbowl Part 2: First Impressions

Bottom Line? It didn't suck.

I was glad right off the bat to see that Zak Starkey was drumming with them. To me, Zak has always been the most Keith Moon-like drummer they've had since 1978. I think he drums world's better than his father, frankly. It was funny to see that he seemed to get the most screen time, more than the two main guys. Roger and Pete didn't look too geriatric (like Mick Jagger seems to these days; dude's a poster boy for nickel coffee for seniors at McDonalds, every Tuesday!). I have to admit the whole thing was a cool-ass spectacle. The red-white-and-blue cymbals were a bit hokey, but not fatally so. Pete still has fire, Roger can approximate just enough of the old scream to make it passable. The light show was cool.

And yet...

The Who still didn't belong there. I mean, what next? Johnny Rotten corrals the remaining Pistols together to play Superbowl 54? Maybe Paul Westerberg gets Tommy and maybe some nephew of Bob Stinson, along with Chris Mars' art supply salesman together, call 'em the Replacements (because at this point that band's name suits the current version of the Who). How low can ya go? And do we want to know the answer to that particular rhetorical question?

For me, the real highlight of the Who's halftime show was seeing my two kids go ape over the proceedings. My 6-year-old son had been prepped sort-of; we played him "Who Are You" in the car, and he sang along gamely when they played it there. (He even liked "Happy Jack" when I played it for him in the car.) For some reason, he decided (even though we were at someone else's house) that all the lights had to be turned off, so there we were listening to the Who in high def and 5.1 surround sound at full-crank with the lights off. The hosts (my high school buddy and his wife) were cool with what seemed to be a weird choice on my son's part, but in hindsight, it was a good touch. Kudos, my man! And my 2-year-old daughter is no slouch; she was dancing along and spinning, having a great time (she even sang, "Who who, Who who"). Maybe for that reason alone, it was worth having my own childhood heroes up there for America to see, and for my kids to get into them like I did at practically their age.

I have the game DVR'ed, so I will go back and re-watch it. I saw that Simon Townshend was on bass and John "Rabbit" Bundrick was on keyboards (appropriate choices both), but haven't identified the 6th man yet. The whole thing had no truly embarrassing moments like taking out a cameraman with your Johnson whilst trying to slide across stage (paging Mr. Springsteen). Ultimately, the Who have become what they railed against, what they seemed so often to fight against; they have become fully a part of the establishment they used to spit on. They have become safe. As a long-time Who fan, you'll have to forgive me if I still have trouble wrapping my brain around that.

Who's Left Meet the Superbowl Part 1: Some Thoughts Before the Match

Longtime readers of mine know how big of a Who fan I remain even to this day. However, I have to tell you that knowing that they are going to be playing tonight in Miami as the featured entertainment at the NFL's yearly orgy of football and commercials fills me with truly mixed emotions. The good news is that they are being recognized as the great rock band they are*. The bad news is that by being selected, they are being recognized as... RESPECTABLE!! I know the Who have been angling for this for a while; it's part and parcel of their latest Big Money Grab (tm). I just don't have to like the process. I mean, this is the MotherTruckin' WHO, for God's sakes.

And the particulars of how they're going to show their stuff to middle America, Joe-Football Lover (and his just as football-lovin' wife, Jane) are really sort of stomach-churning: yes, the Who are proposing a Vegas-style medley of their best-known hits. Vegas?? C'mon, Pete, wasn't the Who Revue of '89 (complete with full horn section and THREE background singers) enough damage to try to come back from?

I hope they don't take another hit to their already-bruised credibility. To be continued...