My objectivity concerning this story will surely be questioned by fans of The Who, however, where that group is concerned, I’ve always considered myself more neutral than not. I’ve never considered myself a fan. They’re music just never did anything for me, so I pretty much ignored them.
Still, there’s no way to be unfamiliar with hits like “My Generation,” “Baba O’Riley,” or “ Pinball Wizard,” and I do recall how those songs sounded when The Who was in their prime, and Sunday’s half-time performance at the big game didn’t cut it– or even come close.
There are a number of writers on the internet that are accusing the NFL of playing it safe after the infamous and family-unfriendly Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” a few years back. Sticking to classic rock acts like The Who or Springsteen is seen by some as the league’s way of keeping things predictable and G-rated for the NFL’s family-friendly image.
Normally, I would be the first to come to the defense of a classic rock act being showcased at an event like the Super Bowl, but only if the performers are still capable of performing. I thought the vocals delivered by both Daltrey and Townshend were sub par at best. Personally, I would have much rather seen Daughtry instead of Daltrey.
The stage was cool, the lasers were cool, and, unfortunately, the performance was cool as well – as in “not hot.” There was talk that the veteran rockers would be accompanied by some pre-recorded material. I was left with little doubt after a performance that seemed to feature the two rock stars, a drummer, and a few other musicians in the shadows who may as well have been sleeping as far as I could tell.
Kudos to whomever synched up the timing on the pre-recorded version of Daltrey’s signature scream during “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” however. Even so, I don’t think too many people with a fully-functioning pair of ears were fooled into believing that it came from the 2010 version of Roger Daltrey. Some of those keyboard passages were a little too pure and true to the original to be believed as well.
To no one’s surprise, I often find myself in disagreement with those who take shots at classic rockers with comments that declare that they are too old to walk without assistance, or will require oxygen after their performance because they’re in their late 50’s or 60’s, but as I watched yesterday’s half-time show, I found myself afloat in the same boat.
Sure, there are aging rock stars out there who are still able to get up there and put on a good show. A good many of them are still recording as well. The demand is obviously still there, and I’m happy to go along as long as the artists hold up their end of the deal.
I’m not saying they should throw Daltrey and Townshend in jail or anything, and I’m not even going to touch the whole pedophile scandal thing – as far as I’m concerned, people have to decide for themselves on that one, since the authorities in the U.K. kind of left the world hanging regarding exactly what went on.
Besides, we have Townshend’s own comments – regarding Yoko Ono, of all people – as evidence that perhaps he’s gone ’round the bend, as they say.
Following their performance, Townshend was, of course, asked about the pedophile thing, and answered as one might expect. What was really interesting, however, was when the duo was asked about their experience at the “Rock and Roll Circus” – a 1968 event that included The Who, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon and, of course, Yoko Ono.
While Daltrey spoke with sadness about his last meeting with The Stones’ Brian Jones before his death, Townshend ceased the opportunity to gush about Yoko Ono, declaring that he thinks she’s “amazing,” and insisting, “No really, I am one of the select [band of] Yoko Ono fans.” A statement that, according to The Times, even prompted a “mutter of disbelief” from Daltrey.
Well, at least Daltrey got that right.