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Who's Next...To Complain?

I wake up this morning and start reading the news. And one of the things that pops up is a columnist bitching about the Super Bowl halftime show, where The Who performed. And some people at work were also complaining, saying that there wasn't much to it. The columnist based his complaint on how The Who is supposed to be so dynamic -- he called them, in their heyday, the greatest live act ever (I have one word for you -- Queen). And all the complaints seem to stem from one thing -- they were expecting an actual concert, not a halftime show.

Now, I did record it, but more out of curiosity than anything else. My expectations were pretty low, and not because of the age of the participants. I'm not a football fan, but I know halftime is twenty minutes. So, anything that happens eats into that twenty minute period. There's short interviews with the coaches, then commercials bracketing things. Then, halftime reports recapping the action and theorizing what adjustments the teams will make. Then more commercials before the halftime show. I figured this would cut the available time for a show down in half. I was close -- The Who's set ran for about 12 minutes. Part of the reason for the time delay is dragging the stage equipment out to the middle of the field. And seeing all the displays, I'm wondering how they lugged all that crap out there and got it up so quickly. The Who would probably take longer to trash it than it took to put it up. And this is The Who we're talking about, so that's saying something. And then there's taking it down again. So, 12 minutes seems about right for a halftime show.

The show itself? Not bad. Keep in mind, I don't much care for medleys. Just as I start grooving to a song, it changes. It's snacks, not full course. With such a small window, it figures, but I would rather have three or four full songs than these quick shots that rely on nostalgia and familiarity. At least "Who Are You?" was longer than the opening of CSI, I give them points for that (the music critic mentioned the song and that Pete Townsend overlicensed the song. During a show with a commercial for Dr. Pepper featuring KISS. You want to talk about whoring out a rock legacy, there's a bigger target out there, dude). However, they did do a reasonably complete version of "Won't Get Fooled Again," my personal favorite Who song. I wasn't getting into it at first, afraid it would change without warning, but it went well enough.

I also appreciated that The Who were clearly playing live. You could tell by the slight but noticable limits on Daltry's vocal range. One critic was complaining that Townsend didn't slide across the stage like in the promos and his heyday. Uh, just how young do you think the guy is?!? Compared to how the Rolling Stones sounded when they performed at the Super Bowl, The Who were almost studio quality (at first, I thought they brought in a Stones tribute band, then thought, why would they do that for the Super Bowl? I then got a good look at the screen....). Going live is a risk, and most performers lip sync to a DAT. The most obvious was when The Blues Brothers played -- either it was lip synced, or Jim Belushi had learned how to sing while holding the mic to his forehead. For my money, the worst halftime show was Aerosmith, 'N Sync, and Britney Spears "performing" together. Talk about cognetive dissonance.

So I think most of the complaints about the halftime show stem from unrealistic expectations. It did what it was supposed to do, keep the crowd wired up and viewers from turning the channel. I'm not saying they can't complain, just that I haven't heard any that can't be justified.

Comments

mornblade
Feb. 8th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
It sounds to me like The Who kicked ass for being shoe-horned into 12 minutes. As for sliding across the stage, I have to agree, Pete Townshend is 64 years old, and The Who have not lived a healthy lifestyle, therefore he should have been cut some slack.

"greatest live act ever"... The person who said that has obviously never seen Alice Cooper live.

Dr. Pepper with KISS, That is the first commercial I have heard about. So, it is first on the list to look for on YouTube (I refuse to even record football just to fast forward through, no point in helping their ratings).

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