The Who’s Super Bowl Halftime Show: Epic and Smashing?

Last year I laughed and chuckled my way through the Super Bowl Halftime show as Bruce Springsteen slid across the stage on his knees and told us to lay off the guacamole dip.  But this year, I’m expecting things to be a lot different and maybe even epic.

Today, during the Super Bowl halftime show, The Who will play a medley of their hits.  And to get you ready for the show I’d like to share with you a couple of interesting perspectives on The Who, on e from a fan and one from The Who themselves.

First, for me, it’s always a struggle to consider a band the same when it only has two of its original members.  But I understand that a band is also a brand and if its original members are still inspired to make music and feel lead to do so under the original name, more power to them.

That said, I’ll give The Who the benefit of the doubt this time.

But if the halftime show falls below our expectations then will have to see about revisiting the idea of whether or not The Who is still The Who without Keith Moon and John Entwistle.

First, as the Mark Guarino reports, “The Who will perform for 12 minutes today for 100 million viewers…and will play a medley of their hits including “A bit of ‘Baba O’Riley,’ a bit of ‘Pinball Wizard,’ a bit of the close of ‘Tommy,’ a bit of ‘Who Are You,’ and a bit of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.'”

Guarino also notes that immediately after the show, “a downloadable version of the performance will be available for use in Rock Band.”

That sounds like it could be a lot of fun for concert fans, so if you have Rock Band and plan to download and take the show for a spin yourself, let me know how it goes.  I’d be interested to know how it feels to play the medley and how fun it will be to go through the same performance that 100 million people just watched live on TV.

Epic Inspiration

Next, I’d like to take you inside the mind of a fans and an artist who was inspired by The Who’s live performance.

Back in November I interviewed Chicago-based cellist Alison Chesley (aka Helen Money) about her inspirations for playing her cello like a punk rock or metal guitarist would.

She told me that one of her main influences to her live performance was experiencing the “epic” rock of The Who live at the Coliseum as a young fan growing up in California.

It was a great moment hearing her explain her inspirations during our chat. And while I watch the halftime show, I’ll definitely be thinking about what it was like for her see The Who live.

And I’ll also be thinking about what it will be like for those fan who will be standing stageside during the Halftime show.  Will they feel the same epicness Alison did?  How will the performances be different?  And of course, if you’ve ever seen the The Who live, I’d like to know what you think, too.

How Townshend Starting Smashing Guitars

Lastly, I’d like share an excerpt from one of the very first Rolling Stone interviews that was with The Who guitarist Pete Townshend.  A few years back, I originally read this interview in the book form that Rolling Stone released with all the interviews Rolling Stone had done over its 40 plus year history.  And when I read this interview with Pete Townshend I was enlightened because he talks at length and with great detail about why and how he started his famous guitar smashing.

I’ll only share with you a small part of the interview, but I highly encourage you to read the whole interview in prep for the Super Bowl Halftime show, or when you have time, because it’s one of the best interviews I’ve read when it comes to an artist talking about a crucial part of their live performance.

When did you start smashing guitars?

It happened by complete accident the first time. We were just kicking around in a club which we played every Tuesday and I was playing the guitar and it hit the ceiling. It broke, and it kind of shocked me ’cause I wasn’t ready for it to go. I didn’t particularly want it to go but it went.

And I was expecting an incredible thing, it being so precious to me, and I was expecting everybody to go, “Wow, he’s broken his guitar, he’s broken his guitar” but nobody did anything which made me kind of angry in a way, and determined to get this precious event noticed by the audience. I proceeded to make a big thing of breaking the guitar. I pounced all over the stage with it and I threw the bits on the stage and I picked up my spare guitar and carried on as though I really meant to do it.

Were you happy about it?

Deep inside I was very unhappy because the thing had got broken. It got around and the next week the people came and they came up to me and they said “Oh, we heard all about it, man; it’s ’bout time someone gave it to a guitar” and all this kind of stuff. It kind of grew from there; we’d go to another town and people would say, “Oh yea, we heard that you smashed a guitar” and all this kind of stuff. It kind of grew from there, we’d go to another town and people would say “Oh yea, we heard that you smashed a guitar.” It built and built and built and built and built and built until one day, a very important daily newspaper came to see us and said, “Oh, we hear you’re the group that smashes their guitars up. Well we hope you’re going to do it tonight because we’re from the Daily Mail. If you do, you’ll probably make the front pages.”

This was only going to be like the second guitar I’d ever broken, seriously. I went to my manager, Kit Lambert, and I said, you know, “Can we afford it, can we afford it, it’s for publicity.” He said, “Yes, we can afford it, if we can get the Daily Mail.” I did it and of course the Daily Mail didn’t buy the photograph and didn’t want to know about the story. After that I was into it up to my neck and have been doing it since.

I’m not sure if we’ll get to see Townshend smash any guitars tonight, but if you’re looking for an interesting list chronicling some of his live concert smashings, check out this fan forum; it features a working compilation of venues and dates where Townshend has reportedly destroyed his guitars during a live show.

Well, you should be all prepped and set to enjoy the Super Bowl halftime show, and ready to get lost in the epic rock of The Who from the confines of your comfy couch or among friends at a local bar.

You’re invited to join us during the halftime show as we do live updates on the Live Fix Facebook Page.

And be sure to come back and tell us what thought of The Who’s halftime show.

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