Blend Music reviews VH1 Honors broadcast
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
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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