Last week, during my Super Bowl party, anticipation was running high for the halftime show. The Who, or at least half of the Who, was about to perform. The music business people in the room were predicting how bad they were going to be, and the non-music business people were looking forward with anticipation.
The Who delivered.
For the haters, they looked old and they didn’t play a single song that was less than 30 years old. But man, were those songs great!!
For the fans, there wasn’t a single moment that the audience couldn’t sing along to, and know all the words. To me that was the best part of the performance.
Just the fact that the band has been successful for more than 40 years is the point of the whole thing. There were 60 year olds and 15 year olds that stood side by side in the stadium and sang along with every note. Could that happen if Arcade Fire or Modest Mouse had performed.
My comment before the halftime show started was- Did the critics for the daily papers write their reviews before the performance even started. I could have predicted what I would read in the papers the next day. One critic wrote that the NFL had used an Arcade Fire song in a pre game piece, inferring that that is the kind of band that should have been playing at half time. Sure, they could have held a little concert in the end zone, and their hundred fans could have had a great time, and most of America could have used halftime as a bathroom break!
The point is, major events should be programmed for a mass audience. Late last year, I got an email from a woman who was writing a thesis on free live music in public places in major cities. She wanted my comments on her premise that Chicago has almost no live, free music in city parks. I quoted from an informal study that I had done a year earlier where I had determined that from Memorial Day to Labor Day last year, there was an average of three musical acts a day (7 days a week) in our downtown parks. She asked me to give her some details, so I described concerts by the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, World Music throughout the summer and blues Jazz, Latin Celtic and Country throughout the summer. She stopped me to interject- Oh no, that doesn’t count. We are just looking at alternative rock. Why isn’t there more of that? When I stopped laughing, I explained that a good programmer programs for the biggest possible audience. Oh, she said, I guess I will have to rewrite this thesis!
Same with those writers trashing the Who!!