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the who. the halftime show.

Posted on 07 February 2010 by Caryn Rose (7)

The official Caryn L. Rose line on the Who’s Super Bowl performance is this: I do not think it was terrible.

Let’s get this out of the way: It didn’t top Bruce. It didn’t top Prince. It didn’t top U2. But it did make me cry, just a little. I cried because I love/d them. I cried because they are old. I cried because I am old. I cried because the music of my youth is dying. I cried because Roger can’t go onstage shirtless anymore. I cried because John is dead, because I never got to see Keith, because there is no one else like them, no one who comes close to them.

I know I am not objective. I know I am emotional and irrational and have a stormy history with this band. But they were the first band I loved insanely. I do not have to be objective.

The performance tonight was a rock band – one of THE rock bands – playing onstage. Just playing. In a few years we will all forget what that was like, a band, just playing onstage, without gimmicks or theatrics. There are no more bands like this, who form when they are young and stick together 20, 30, 40 years. Consider that U2 is the only band in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that still has their original members. Think about this. It was not the Who at their best, but this era is not them at their best. They are old. They have aged. Roger’s voice, which he coddled for years, has not held up. At least he has learned to not to try to hit the notes and miss them, he has figured out how to modulate around them and still deliver a solid performance. But it is not power screaming Roger Daltrey, and if you are looking for that, you are better off watching The Kids Are Alright on repeat. You don’t go for that. Or if you do, you’re not very smart.

You go for the emotional heartstrings being played, and they can still do that. I got goosebumps when “Won’t Get Fooled Again” started. I got goosebumps during “Listening To You”. If you didn’t then these aren’t your songs, this isn’t your band, you don’t care about rock and roll and it’s just background music to you. And I get that this might not be relevant to you. But there’s an awful lot of people to whom it was relevant. Those people are also getting old along with Roger and Pete and in a few years you can have Lady Gaga doing the halftime show for you instead.

Pete, Roger, Zak Starkey on drums, Pino Palladino on bass, Rabbit Bundrick on keys. Simon Townshend filling in the gaps (who I have forgiven previous transgressions due to his work with Roger on his solo tour). This is the Who core right now, and it is sad in a way that I was relieved that it was the people I already know and not someone new. I liked the staging, I liked the clear drums with the target cymbals (okay I LOVED the target cymbals), I liked how I was not seeing the camera cut to audience plants who have no idea who this is or have never seen the band before and could mostly care less. The connection with the audience was a big part of what the Who was, but you weren’t going to get it here. The lighting and setup were topnotch.

Zak was remarkably restrained and so was Pete and I think that put a damper on the energy. Not enough guitar, too much keyboard in the mix. When Pete did play, it was fantastic, melodic, compact – which is a freaking challenge in a medley of songs that don’t easily lend themselves to being medley-ized, in a band that was never about brevity (remember Pete in TKAA going on about Kit Lambert giving him a hard time about songs being more than “2 minutes 50”). But the BIGGEST problem, hands down, was the fucking JACKET. For years we have all gotten on his case for his need to wear expensive suits onstage, which he then spends the entire fucking show moving and adjusting and it gets in the way and causes him to miss solos and notes and windmills. WHY ON EARTH DID YOU DECIDE TO WEAR IT TONIGHT? “It’s just not windmill conducive,” to quote a friend texting me after the show.

Roger hit the scream on WGFA and that was all that mattered. The look of relief on his face when it was over showed just how nervous he was.

I haven’t seen them live since the tour when John died, out at the Gorge, when I yelled at the thunder for taking the Ox from us. I wasn’t going to see Roger on the most recent solo outing until a friend gave me a free ticket. I will probably go this time around, because this time will likely be goodbye.

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7 Responses to “the who. the halftime show.”

  1. Catherine says:

    Beautiful post -so very honest in it passion and sincerity!
    There’s nothing wrong w crying over your/their lost youth. It’s funny to think how we grow with the artists we love, and tend to identify them with specific points in our lives. That’s what great art is supposed to do -and The Who are certainly incredible artists.

    …but that jacket? STUPID!

  2. Janice says:

    Great blog. Just what I was feeling. I did see them last year for all the reasons you mentioned. Never got to see them back in the day. We all have to face this and I know none of us like it much. It kills me to see McCartney aging,for example.

    And, yeah, on the jacket – I wanted to tear it off. Oh, well.

    I’m glad I found this your link on a tweet.

  3. Francine says:

    I loved seeing the legend that is ‘The Who’ too, Caryn. Nice post.
    Thought Pete’s guitar was not mixed well. His Strat was too loud, and you are right, restrained. It happens at our age, but this kind of venue is daunting, even for the original ‘My Generation’ kids……Still, it was fine!

  4. fc says:

    First…there’s another “Francine” here? Whoa.
    I loved seeing Pete & Roger, even though I have trouble calling them The Who. They got up there and gave it: working musicians, getting it done.

    BTW I had no idea @metsgrrl was the Caryn Rose I remember from back on the babel-list. Nice to see you on the interwebs again.

  5. GA says:

    Good post. Although I am a couple generations behind The Who’s, I could feel what you were saying b/c I know I will one day feel exactly like this about my generation. I felt oddly mixed, really happy to see them up there and rocking out, overjoyed actually that this was happening. But I knew that this is their last hurrah. This is weird and maybe even offensive to say, but it kind of felt like saying goodbye to someone about to descend into Alzheimer’s disease. They are still present and here, but about about to vaporize and I felt happy and sad at the same time. Very mixed feelings. Thanks for the post.

  6. twayward says:

    I sang at the top of my lungs. I stomped my feet. I still have “Who Are Who Are…” and the power chords from WGFA going through my head today.

    Is Roger’s voice the same? No. Does Pete have the same level of energy? No.

    Do The Who rock – yesterday, today and forever? Abso-BLOODY-lutely!!!

  7. steph says:

    before they came out joe and i each guessed what they might play, and i racked my brain for a song of theirs that might be related to sports, and came up with nothing…i thought maybe magic bus? for no reason at all. when they started playing pinball wizard i actually froze and then said to joe ‘they are NOT going to change it to FOOTBALL wizard, right? RIGHT?’ and i was so relieved when they didn’t, lol. i concur, that drum kit was ridiculously cool, and the money put into the production, the lights, the lasers, was not spent in vain.