Carrie Brownstein, formerly of the excellent band Sleater-Kinney, keeps a great blog on NPR Music that I have become a big fan of lately. Her writing style is very accessible, and her posts are usually very thought provoking and interesting.

Today, she posted a recap of the Who’s performance at Super Bowl XLIV, arguing that the band played a boring, archaic set that she called “borderline delusional.” She said that part of the reason is that they are not the same without their rhythm section, which consisted of Keith Moon and John Entwistle, both of whom deceased in 1978 and 2002 respectively. She also believes having the band play so far away from the crowd was a very polarizing move.

I completely agree with her assessment. Zak Starkey, the son of Ringo Starr who played the drums last night, looked simply awkward on stage with his rote playing style. Additionally, the presentation by both lead singer Roger Daltry and guitarist Pete Townshend lacked the kind of emotion that defined The Who during their heydays, as even Townshend’s windmill guitar playing seemed like that of someone just going through the motions.

However, Brownstein took things a step further by using the performance to posit the question: “Should bands break up after the loss of a band member?” She pointed to several bands who have tried to continue after a loss (such as the Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, and Metallica) and pointed out the only real instance when death breaks up a band is when the lead singer is the one who dies (as was the case with Joy Division, Nirvana, etc). It’s a very interesting question she brought up, and is a testament to her abilities as a blogger who is worth reading.

The Who enjoyed some success after the death of Moon, but with half of their band now deceased, should The Who call it quits and leave their legacy intact? After last night’s performance, it doesn’t look they’re riding into the sunset any time soon, even if it means that they’re left to playing the CSI theme songs ad nauseam.

(Image Credit: The Associated Press)

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