Friday, February 12, 2010

Needs To Stop: The Who

Yes, The Who, more like The Two nowadays are one of the many sad examples of classic rock bands that just don't know when to quit. In this case, it's even more evidant when the two original memers left can't do what made them famous anymore. Let's face the facts, Roger Daltrey's voice is shot. It died years ago, however now it seems like his voice has gotten to the point where he can't finish a song without Pete Townshend's equally wrecked voice having to cover for him. Then there's Pete Townshend. He may be the more able of the two, but no matter how many times he can windmill his arm won't cover up the fact that he can't solo for shit anymore.
People thought that The Who were over when Kieth Moon died, but they kept going, and years later when their bassist The Ox passed away The Who were back playing shows in no time. When two icons as big and as talanted as Moon and Entwistle pass on, it's hard to continue as an integriable band. But no, Townshend is convinced that he is the heart and soul of the band. In his mind, he was the one who started the group, so he gets to decide exactly who makes up The Who.

They have done some good, don't get me wrong. Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr and former drummer for Oasis is a splendid fill in on the skins. He attacks the drums with a decent amount of intensity and is slightly reminiscent of Kieth Moon. On the bass however they are extremely lacking. Pino Pallidino is a sad excuse for a bassist. He adds absolutely nothing to the band. Having seen The Who live recently, and seeing videos of them perform, it is hard to even notice that Pallidino is playing. The Ox was a legend, and is arguably one of the best bassists of all time. So in filling the shoes of a legend, a soulless session player does not satisfy my appetite.

Then we get to The Super Bowl. The Super Bowl half-time shows have gotten immensly better over the years. Luckily the days of Brittney Spears performing with Aerosmith are gone thanks to Janet Jackson's nip slip which cost MTV the rights to produce the half-time shows. In recent years, The Super Bowl has stuck to one legendary rock band performing a 15 minute medley of hits. This has rendered some absolutely unforgettable performances (Prince, Bruce Springsteen) and some mediocre ones (Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones). However, no half-time show has been unbearable as The Who. 

After forming my own opinion, talking to friends and reading reviews, I can conclude that the one thing about this performance was it was technically amazing. Whoever the lighting and set designer for this performance were really did a stellar job at distracting millions of people from realizing how bad The Who sounded that night. Daltrey was off-key, and off-tempo. Townshend's playing was all pomp and had no substance to it whatsoever. Their song choice was typical, playing mainly classic tracks that serve as theme songs to CBS shows the performance seemed like a huge advertisement for CSI. To top it all off, there was blatant lip-synching being done by Daltrey. The "Won't Get Fooled Again" scream wasn't even shown on camera and was obviously digitally enhanced. Why do this? Why does one of the greatest rock bands of all time have to lip-synch their own songs? Is it because CBS wanted to ensure audio quality for their broadcast? Possibly, that could be one underlying reason. But the main reason is this is a band who pretends to still be on top of their game, even though it is quite evident that they aren't. 

I respect The Who and they certainly were one of the pioneers of hard rock, but there has to come a point in these classic artist's careers where they need to pass the spotlight to the next generation of great artists. There are many younger bands at the peak of their careers (full list to come later) who may not have been blessed with the commercial success of The Who but certainly could put on a much more rewarding performance than what we saw last Sunday.
I still respect The Who, and the legacy that they have had. But like so many other classic artists they have reached a point where they have become so past their expiration date that it's not even enjoyable anymore. So please, Roger, Pete, stop making music. 

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