Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl music wrap-up

Because you knew I would have an opinion. . . . .

(it's good to watch these links again when you're not surrounded by guacamole and beenie weenies)

National Anthem:

Carrie Underwood gets a solid A- in my book. I know she missed the last note terribly. But did you hear the note on "Freeeeee". Wow! My suspicions are that the high note had something to do with her missing the last note of the song. It seemed like the throat hadn't yet recovered from belting out the high line. Take note singers. . .ya gotta save something. But, in this case, it was almost worth it. That was a great, heartfelt, national anthem.

Half Time:

Part 1 Part 2

I got on today and the opinions were all over the place on this one.

Full disclosure: I am a fan of the Who. I have been ever since I lived in New Jersey and saw them express the emotions of an entire city at the "Concert for New York" right after 9/11. If you have time, watch this show with all the firefighters and policemen in the front row. Pete T., almost deaf now, belts out "we are honored to be here". . . if that performance doesn't give you chills. . . . (strike that. . .even if you don't have time, watch it, epic, it's in 4 parts)

Now, Roger is 65, Pete is 64. . . .expectations need to be adjusted accordingly. If I still move like Pete Townshend at 64, I'll be happy. (I love it how he endlessly fiddles with his volume knob and whammy bar and it makes absolutely no difference :) )

The O.G.'s: I'm going to take the stance that Roger was not lip-synching. Many folks think he was, last night, but I thought it sounded pretty legit. It may have been a hybrid live/synched thing vocally. But, I have two issues, .1) Why was the tuning and phrasing off, if they were lip synching? and 2) that medley, with the different times of the songs and transitions, would've been hard to just synch to. Not, impossible,. . .but very hard.

Pete brought the noise, and Roger brought the soul. It was classic Who. There is some debate whether Roger's scream during "Won't get fooled again" was live. I"m not sure. . .the video doesn't show him at that moment. They obviously put some effects on his mic for "the scream". But, let me just take this opportunity to agree with many others that Roger Daltrey's scream at the beginning of "Won't get fooled again", on the original recording, is the greatest scream in the history of rock and roll. It probably encapsulated the feelings of an entire generation with one holler. It expresses more emotion than a thousand screams from modern hard-core bands. . . and, most pertinently, it makes CSI: Miami must watch television for the first 4 minutes of each show. (after that, the show gets stupid. . .that youtube clip is hilarious).

The Backing Band:

Pino Palladino (more famously of the John Mayer trio) has played bass for The Who often since the tragic passing of John Entwhistle, one of the great bass players of all time ( you can see a great performance from Entwhistle on the "Concert for New York" clips).

Pino played spot on and funky, as always.

Zac Starkey on drums: This one is hard for me. I think this dude is ridiculous on drums, and if anyone can capture the psychotic improvisation of the late, great, Keith Moon. . .it is Starkey.

The Problem: He is a son of Ringo Starr (apparently Keith Moon gave him his first trap set). Ringo, perhaps the worst drummer in rock and roll, and definitely the luckiest man on the face of the earth. . . . sullies the name a bit.

But, catch those fills during "Won't get fooled again". That's legit. Starkey is legit, and brings some great emotion to a 12 minute Super Bowl Set.

The Rhythm guitarist was Simon Townshend, Pete's brother. . . who gets alot of credit for holding down the BGV's. (although the keyboardist may have been triggering some of that).
The Keyboardist was Rabbit Bundrick who had some tasty piano stuff, and triggered all of the old Synth patches.

(a side note. . . did you know that Pete Townshend wrote and played all of that crazy synthesizer stuff on analog synthesizers 40 years ago? There was no pro-tools, no Reason, no digital sequencing, and no click/computer tracks in music. . . . wow!)

One downside: The Who really needs back up singers. Pete should stop singing (about 8 years ago). That's the one thing that always bring The Who down these days; Pete's vocal stylings. Just my personal opinion.

All in all. . I enjoyed the set. . . although I hate the quick medley versions they have to do. It really hurt Springsteen last year, and this year it hurt too. I would've rather had "Baby O'Reilly" and "Won't get Fooled again" with a 5 minute guitar/drum solo section.

Wow, this turned into a long blog. sorry. Enjoy the clips!


Doc said...

The last time I saw the Who -- and I've seen them more than I've seen any other band -- was more than 10 years ago now, and even then they played their songs a semi-tone low and Daltrey was singing the very highest notes falsetto.

Of course, I haven't seen the superbowl performance (and didn't know they were performing, otherwise I might have been tempted to watch).

I still say that watching Townshend play "Pinball Wizard" on an acoustic guitar is about as close to perfection as one can get in rock.

aaron said...


Yes, U2 has transposed some stuff down lately, too. I"d love to be a fly on the wall for those conversations. How do they come to decide this? Did Roger just blow a gasket in rehearsal or something?

It's probably a lot of trouble, because they're playing the guitars in the natural formations, so that means they're tuning everything low before the show. And, it would affect every song at that point.

I'm probably overthinking it, but I'd just love to hear those conversations sometime :)

Roger: Pete, bloke, . . we have to transpose it down

Pete: Why, . . . I only play 4 chords, Roger!!

Roger: Because I can't bloody sing it anymore!


Andy said...

As a huge Who fan, I'll just say this. I really enjoyed the set, but you can certainly tell the difference between groups that are regularly touring and those that periodically come out for big greatest hits shows.

But to editorialize a bit, its a little ironic for me to see perhaps one of the original punk bands play all their commercial hits. "The Who Sell Out?"