America honours The Who

Roger sounds a little surprised. I’m a little surprised, too.

The Who have had a significant impact on American culture?! Maybe the Kennedy Center Award was in recognition of the CSI theme songs (Who Are You, Won’t Get Fooled Again, and Baba O’Riley). And I remember there was one episode of the Simpsons which featured The Who.

The award ceremony included a fine performance of Love Reign O’er Me by Bettye LaVette. But here are the boys themselves, performing The Real Me, live at the Royal Albert Hall in 2000:  two years before bassist John Entwistle died.

That’s Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son) on the drums. Check out the instrumental break beginning at 2:34. The Royal Albert Hall performance was one of the few times that Entwistle’s awe-inspiring bass technique was properly captured on video.

You certainly can’t describe Townshend and Daltrey as “ageless”. But most rock acts compare unfavourably to the Who, even at that late stage in their career.

Better yet, flash back to 1970:  Young Man Blues, performed at the Isle of Wight festival.

Note the interaction between Townshend and Keith Moon — they scarcely take their eyes off each other. The drums are supposed to interact with the bass (yer basic rhythm section). Not so with The Who, in which the drummer and the guitarist had a little love affair going, and the bassist was left to fend for himself. (Which he did superbly, of course.)

Oh yeah — there’s also that vocalist with the golden curls and the perfect rock voice.

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