Bruno Mars will perform at 2014 Super Bowl

The NFL is on a roll in terms of popularity, and that has also translated to the Super Bowl half time show. While most football fans are checking out sportsbook reviews as they prepare to wager cash on the big game, many more casual fans are waiting for the half time show each year. This coming year we’ll have Bruno Mars as the featured superstar as the organizers went for a much younger act.

Not that the older acts were busts. Madonna did an excellent job with her half time show. Bruce Springsteen was also excellent several years ago. But if you look at the performers recently since the program started focusing on one artists, it’s really been mostly a classic rock tribute show. Iconic performers like the Rolling Stones, Prince, U2, Paul McCartney and The Who have been tapped along with Bruce and Tom Petty.

Then, with Beyoncé last year and the Black Eyed Peas several years ago, we started seeing more contemporary artists getting the nod. The Beyoncé reunion with Destiny’s Child was a very big hit last year as the dancing became a huge part of the show as it did with the Madonna performance.

Now with Bruno Mars we have another young performer who can really dance, so we can expect a pretty lively show this time as well. Though you have to wonder if the cold weather in New York might affect the half time show along with the game itself. The decision to have the game in New York during February was quite controversial.

The Super Bowl has come a long way since the first game that wasn’t even a sellout, and the half time show has changed quite a bit as well. The spectacle of these performances are light years away from the marching bands that were booked in the early days. I remember when the Orange Bowl half time show was the most talked about event of its kind. Now nothing really compares to the Super Bowl show.

  

The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970


RIYL: Cream, Led Zeppelin, the Jimi Hendrix Experience

“On August 29, 1970, The Who stepped onto the stage before an audience estimated at 600,000 at the Isle of Wight Festival at a time that, arguably, they were at the top of their game,” writes Mike Brown (a school mate of the band) in the liner notes for this two-disc release of the band’s killer show of 40 years ago. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could listen to this stellar show and argue the point about the Who being at the top of their game.

The band certainly went on to deliver some more classic albums and big tours in the ’70s, but here, touring behind guitarist Pete Townshend’s brilliant rock opera Tommy, the band is en fuego. The brilliant talent of drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle is evident in a vital way that doesn’t come across the same on the band’s studio recordings. And Townshend, long hailed as a brilliant songwriter and arranger but rarely if ever mentioned as a great lead guitarist, shows chops to burn on one wailing solo after another.

The band comes out blazing on “Heaven and Hell” and never lets up, with Townshend serving early notice that he came to play, ripping off a hot bluesy solo while Entwistle and Moon rock out. “Young Man Blues” is another early highlight, with the rhythm section just killing it and Townshend delivering another searing lead. Entwistle’s inventive bass playing is particularly impressive throughout the show, easily placing him on par with peers like Jack Casady, Jack Bruce and Phil Lesh.

From there the band moves into a complete and epic rendition of Tommy that takes up the rest of disc one and most of disc two. The rock opera really picks up steam down the stretch with the classic chords of “Go to the Mirror” and singer Roger Daltrey starring on a revelatory version of “I’m Free.” The epic conclusion of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” the band’s timeless anthem of rebellion, is pure money, clocking in at almost 10 minutes. Then the band rocks out on charged versions of “Summertime Blues,” a cover medley that includes a grungy version of “Twist and Shout,” “Substitute” and a killer jam on “My Generation” that sounds almost like the Jimi Hendrix Experience (who shared the bill.) The heavy bluesy jamming continues on “Naked Eye” before the show wraps with “Magic Bus.” This show is classic rock history 101 at its finest. (Eagle Records 2009)

  

Danny Ross: One Way


RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Wilco, Ben Folds

It’s one thing to say you sound different than everyone else. It’s another thing entirely to do it without trying. New York City-based singer/songwriter/pianist Danny Ross falls into the latter category, at least it seems that way on his latest, One Way. Sure, you can try to lump Ross in with the likes of Ben Folds or Sufjan Stevens, but he set out to add elements of the Who’s Tommy or Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, while also channeling his background studying jazz piano. The result is an exuberant batch of songs that may not grab you right away, but slowly do so after repeated listens, when you hear things you didn’t hear the first time around. Ross’ falsetto and unique melodies may also remind you of the late Jeff Buckley, but that’s just a point of reference because dude is clearly doing his own thing. If you like your music to have perfect structure and ear candy hooks, you won’t find much to like on here – but if you veer off the beaten path and like your music to do the same, you’re going to love Danny Ross’s music. The best tracks on this fine set are the literal opener, “Sleepy Dream;” “Stay Here with Me” and “And The Trumpets Sing” which both have melodic elements of ‘60s pop; and the driving, triumphant title track. Just do yourself a favor, and give this one a few spins with time to fully digest it. (Danny Ross 2009)

Danny Ross MySpace Page

  

The Who will play at Super Bowl XLIV Halftime Show

The Who

I like The Who. I saw them twice at the Hollywood Bowl when I was in high school and surviving members Roger Daltrey and Pete Towshend were fun to watch both times. But that was at the Hollywood Bowl — not the Super Bowl. As SI.com reports, the band will perform during the big game’s historic halftime show. The Super Bowl Halftime Show usually features relevant acts with mass appeal. While The Who are reportedly writing a new album, the band hardly seems as enticing as Paul McCartney, Prince, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Bruce Springsteen, who have all performed at the show in the past.

Who wants some breaking news? Who wants to know who is performing at halftime of Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7 in Miami? Who wants me to shut up and just get to it already? Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, according to a source, The Who will take the stage during the NFL’s championship game. Reached for comment, an NFL spokesperson said, “When we have something to announce, we’ll announce it.”

I don’t doubt that The Who will play their hearts out, but acts like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Weezer, and Neil Young are all better choices.

  

Pete Towshend preparing new musical and Who album

The Who

It’s been a while since we’ve heard any significant news about legendary rock band the Who. In 2006, the group released Endless Wire, their first studio album in 23 years, to generally mediocre reviews. Since then, Townshend and Daltrey received Kennedy Center Honors at the 31st annual awards ceremony in December of last year. As Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan continue to release albums as they get on in years, Pete Townshend has decided to throw his hat in yet again.

“I am writing a new musical,” Townshend blogged. “Floss is an ambitious new project for me, in the style of Tommy and Quadrophenia. In this case the songs are interspersed with surround-sound ‘soundscapes’ featuring complex sound effects and musical montages.”

Townshend said the album is designed as an outdoor “son et lumière piece”, to be debuted in 2011. He is in talks with producers in New York but hopes to release some of the musical’s more “conventional” songs on a new Who album next year.

I’ve seen the Who twice in my lifetime. Both concerts took place at the Hollywood Bowl and were around 2003 and 2007 — I can’t remember exactly. Regardless, they were solid both times and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. The first time I saw them, John Entwhistle was still alive and was still a master bassist. The second time, Entwhistle had just died, but the band decided to continue the tour in his honor. Nevertheless, Townshend and Daltrey were energetic and engaging in each performance. While I forgot about Endless Wire after a few listens, the Who remains one of the few bands from the 60s I wouldn’t mind putting out a new album. I’ll give whatever music Townshend records a chance.

  

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