Monday, February 8, 2010

What's the Matter with the Who?

A friend jumped on the Who's Super Bowl XLIV Concert, knowing that I'm a long-time fan. He reported that "Commentary coming in seems to lean towards 'worst Super Bowl show ever.'” Of course, he's getting his data from wingnut talk radio, which is like getting a restaurant review from a McDonald's fry cook. "Taste" is a personal thing, but folks who exhibit a distinct lack of intelligence or common sense in all areas of life should keep their opinions to themselves. That means you, Rush and the rest of the ClusterFox crowd.

As far as being the "worst ever," I don't know how the 1976 Up With People noise-pollution could ever be topped. Awful is way too weak a word. That might have been one of the worst moments in musical history, let alone Super Bowl history. How about 1989's Elvis impersonator: Elvis Presto? Coke gave us that tacky Vegas crap fest. The New Kids on the Block in 1991, with the 3500 kids and foam guitars? That was pretty bad, to express as mild an opinion as I can manage. Garth Brooks and Clint Black in 1993 and 1994 introduced the NASCAR crowd of hillbillies to the rest of us. Fortunately, I skipped out on those games and only saw painful bits of the performances on the tube post-game. U2 turned in a performance in 2002 that reminded us all of how good our local U2 cover bands can be; compared to the real thing. Janet and Justin took a lot of heat for their sex club act in 2004, but they were actually the class portion of a show that included chronic musical catastrophes P. Diddy and Kid Rock. 2006, 2006, 2007, and 2008 coughed up McCartney, the Stones, Prince, and Tom Petty. Nothing particularly adventurous or even lip-sync-free there. In a single concert, Prince caused a gayness outbreak that was worse than three generations of petrochemical pollution and phthalates. The evidence was obvious from all the butt-slapping that went on during the 2nd half of the game (Colts-Bears). Speaking of which, why is displaying a little boob "pornographic" while grabbing a 300 pound lineman's butt cheek barely gets noticed?

Honestly, I don't know why the Super Bowl halftime has turned into some sort of R&R Hall of Fame moment. The only show I can remember actually liking was the 1979 Fleetwood Mac half-time performance and that was only because of the USC Marching Band. I could care less about the Mac, but the USC band rocked. The sound sucked, though.

It is true that 65-year-old Daltry and 64-year-old Townshend were beyond their prime by a couple of decades. Hell, half of the band is dead. What part of that doesn't scream "obsolete?" The problem is who isn't? And of those who aren't, who wants to watch them? For that matter, among the suspicions that the Who's show was lip-synced was the obvious mediocre mix. If Daltry's voice was dubbed, why was the dubbing done after his voice was mostly gone? You'd think they would at least haul out a recording from when he could actually hit the notes. Townshend's guitar phased in and out of the mix through the whole show. I could not figure who who was singing the high harmony's, though. That bit was suspicious.

What about a pro football game would make fans want to watch a couple minutes of music, a fireworks show in the middle of the afternoon, and a whole lot of equipment rushed to and from a field? For all the hype, the whole concept is begging for ridicule and any band desperate enough to jump into that ring is bound to get hammered for the effort. Like working in Vegas, doing the Super Bowl is like conceding the point that your career is pretty much over and you're just in it for the money until that dries up.


Anonymous said...

On the other hand, I watched the Stuper Bowl and have changed my opinion of the Who as a result. As per our recent long discussion regarding my not getting them, and having little respect for Daltry as a singer: I have changed my mind. I was appalled by the Rolling Stones' half-time show some years back because they could only make a shameful attempt to mimic themselves. I didn't get that at all from The Who even though they didn't bring any new music to the concert with them. There wasn't a hint of insincerity and I was impressed with both Townshend and Daltry.

Anonymous said...

I love that. Nice comeback.


T.W. Day said...

Sorry. I got so carried away with my primary topic that I apparently implied that I didn't like the Who performance. I did, for what it was. I've seen them several times in their prime, once with all 4 original members, and this was a disappointment in comparison. Compared to practically every other Super Bowl show the Who kicked ass.

I just don't get why a band like that wants to be in that place. The Super Bowl is a football game, not a music venue. I'd think at their age, they'd be expecting a little more credibility and respect for their long, important contribution to music.

Wirebender Audio Rants

Over the dozen years I taught audio engineering at Musictech College and McNally Smith College of Music, I accumulated a lot of material that might be useful to all sorts of budding audio techs and musicians. This site will include comments and questions about professional audio standards, practices, and equipment. I will add occasional product reviews with as many objective and irrational opinions as possible.