I would certainly be remiss in my duties if I didn’t give a post to review the Superbowl halftime performance of one of the most legendary live bands of all time, The Who. First of all let me tell you that I am a huge Who fan and I have been since the very first time I heard them. The Who are actually one of the biggest influences on my playing and songwriting. Still, I’ll try to be objective about their Superbowl halftime performance.
I saw The Who on their last tour so I expected them to be showing their age and I knew that both Pete and Roger had lost quite a bit of the upper range of their voices. Still, I love these guys and it’s understandable that at age 64 and 65 years old their voices don’t have the power they did in their prime. So I expected that, what I really wanted to see was how much of this show was really going to be live.
It looked to me like the entire band was mic’ed and plugged in and the show honestly sounded like it did when I saw them live on the last tour. I believe that most of this show was live as we saw it on television. There were the standard backing tracks that are always used for the synthesizer tracks on Baba O’Riley, Who Are You and Won’t Get Fooled again. It did look like the drums, bass and rhythm guitar were possibly pre-recorded but I couldn’t tell for sure. I could definitely tell that the singing was live and that Pete’s guitar playing was live. Pete let out some monster riffs and decent solo’s during the performance. His shoulder must still be in great shape because his signature windmill was in fine form and he employed it profusely.
So lets talk about the singing for a minute. I’ve been seeing negative comments about the singing all over the web. Well guess what folks, these guys are old! I think it’s to their credit that they still have the drive and courage to get up there and sing full on rock-and-roll on one of the biggest stages in the world at this stage in their career. I mean look at Bon Jovi last week at the Grammy’s. He was singing low and easy because his voice just can’t get up there anymore. At least Townsend and Daltrey are able to get close to how the sounded in their power days. Also, the Who have always been F-you rockers who don’t care about being perfect. They just care about rocking their hardest and that’s exactly what they did.
The song selection was predictable of course but the songs are timeless, still hard hitting and fun to listen to. Pinball Wizard was a good opener and Baba O’Riley was a welcome surprise. I do wonder why they decided to squeeze See Me Feel Me in there in such an abbreviated form. I guess to prove that they could still play a balad. See Me Feel Me gave way to their biggest rock anthem Won’t Get Fooled Again on which they appropriately rocked. I was expecting a rendition of My Generation but it does seem odd to hear them singing “Hope I die before I get old” when they are old. But then again, old is really just relative isn’t it?
The stage was just beautiful with an excellent light show and it’s always a treat to see Ringo’s son Zak Starkey one-up his old man on the drumset. I know they’re getting old, but half the band is already dead and it’s just nice to see some old rockers get up and do the best with what they have left in the tank. I for one, really did enjoy The Who playing the Superbowl halftime show.