Blend Music reviews VH1 Honors broadcast

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Fri Jul 18 18:28:19 CDT 2008

TV Review: VH1 Rock Honors: The Who
By Glen Boyd:
Earlier tonight, VH1 broadcasted their Rock Honors tribute to the Who, with 
Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Flaming Lips and others paying tribute to the venerable 
British rock institution, capped off by a performance from the surviving Who 
members themselves. The show was taped in Los Angeles earlier this week, and 
will no be doubt be repeated often in the weeks ahead. Check local listings, but 
above all, don't miss it.
It was befitting in a bittersweet sort of way that the broadcast began with 
video footage of the Who's legendary 1970 performance at Isle Of Wight. 
Performing "Magic Bus," and with Keith Moon and John Entwhistle still very much 
and alive and kicking, the band's performance here is vintage Who. It is both 
primal and unhinged, in that chaotic, wheels are about to come off the wagon way 
that the Who were so known for in their prime.
Watching this clip, it is clear that this is a place that the Who could 
never go back home to now, even if it were possible to resurrect Moon and the Ox 
from the dead. The Who's own show closing performance here of course confirms 
this, although to their credit they still give it everything their 
sixty-something year old bodies can muster.
Still, I have to give Townshend and Daltrey credit. After running, rather 
furiously at times, from their own legacy during much of the eighties and 
nineties (especially in Townshend's case), the Who survivors have in recent 
years not only shown a new willingness in coming to terms with it, but a new 
desire to actually retake control of it, and perhaps even expand upon it. And 
unlike some other giants of their particular era (I'm talking to you Rolling 
Stones), the Who's comeback album Endless Wire showed a renewed fire in the 
belly, creatively speaking.
On the VH1 Rock Honors show, all the participating bands proudly wear their 
love of the band on their sleeves in some truly inspired performances. Foo 
Fighters storm right out of the gate with their straight from Live At Leeds take 
on "Young Man Blues." Incubus kicks comparable ass on "I Can See For Miles," 
wisely playing it fairly straight in as much as that song needs little in the 
way of any added noise anyway. The Flaming Lips, introduced by a faux Elton John 
as the Pinball Wizard, bring the house down with the overture from Tommy, ending 
in true Who fashion by destroying their instruments.
As an old Who fan myself though, nothing here comes close to Pearl Jam's 
electrifying performance of "The Real Me" and "Love Reign O'er Me" from the 
great rock opera Quadrophenia. PJ absolutely shreds these two songs, and Eddie 
Vedder makes a good case for being probably the only guy on the planet, outside 
of Roger Daltrey himself, with the voice to do Townshend's songs justice. Backed 
by a full compliment of strings, Vedder hits every single impossible scream on 
"Love Reign O'er Me" note for note. This incredible performance literally 
brought tears to my eyes.
As for the Who themselves, they are clearly not the band they once were 
(without Moon and Entwhistle, how would that even be possible?). Roger Daltrey 
in particular, clearly has problems hitting those high notes from his 
bare-chested, golden-maned glory years these days. But to his credit, that 
doesn't stop him from giving it his all in trying. Right down to every last 
pained expression seen on his face in doing so, it's clear that he has 
absolutely no interest in slowing down or, God forbid, stopping now. The screams 
may no longer be there, but the passion very clearly still is.
For Townshend's part, the same guy who not all that long ago seemed content 
to go out as a bitter old curmudgeon wanting little to do with his own 
considerable legacy, windmills the ass off of that guitar, and seems every bit 
as moved and inspired here as Daltrey. The backing band -- which includes Zak 
"Son of Ringo" Starkey on drums, and Pino Paladino on bass -- fill the rather 
huge shoes of Moon and Entwhistle quite admirably too.
There are a number of points during the performance of hits like "Behind 
Blue Eyes" and "Who Are You?" where it is quite clear that both Daltrey and 
Townshend are also quite moved, and in fact grateful to be alive (given the 
fates of their fallen comrades Moon and Entwhistle). Both appear ready and eager 
to close out The Who's legacy with the fire still in their eyes.
VH1 Rock Honors The Who will almost certainly be repeated into submission 
by the VH1 networks over the next few weeks. If you love rock and roll, be sure 
to catch it when it is.

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This 
 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!


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