Who Dat Playing At Super Bowl XLIV?

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Mssrs. Manning and Brees won’t be the only ones performing on the Big Game stage on Super Sunday.

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, the surviving member of The Who, my favorite British band, will rock the Super Bowl XLIV halftime show on CBS.

Townshend, in an interview with Billboard,  revealed the mashed-up set list that no doubt will make Les Moonves and Jerry Bruckheimer beam. Townshend, in addition to parts of “Pinball Wizard” and “We’re Not Going To Take It,”(”See Me, Feel Me”), said there would be “a bit of “Baba O’Riley”…”Who Are You” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

“My Generation” and “5:15 aside,” the latter three are the band’s biggest bits, er, hits and the respective theme songs of CSI: NY, the original CSI (Las Vegas), and CSI: Miami. The Who also performed the trio of tunes during CBS’s upfront presentation on May 19, 2004 at Carnegie Hall. Talk about a house band gig!

“A lot of the stuff that we do has that kind of celebratory vibe about it — we’ve always tried to make music that allows the audience to go a bit wild if they want to” Townshend told Billboard. “Hopefully it will hit the spot.”

Hopefully, the windmilling, splits and jumps (Pete’s hops have been measured in inches in recent years) and microphone twirling won’t fall flat before a TV audience that will be some 100 times larger than the multitudes who watched Roger, Pete and the late Keith Moon and John Entwistle at Woodstock.

The Who

Other artists — a list that includes Prince, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, U2, Tom Petty and last year, Bruce Springsteen — have been said to receive a bounce in business following their Super Bowl halftime gigs. In the case of The Boss, it was a nice promo for the release of “Working On a Dream.”

But from what I can tell, The Who doesn’t have much beyond its old catalogue to sell. For a group that hasn’t left many dimes on the table — not only with Black Rock; but with its excellent, yet relatively short oeuvre that has been reissued repeatedly and sliced as sound track to various commercials; and its sundry farewell tours (I think of Shea Stadium, with The Clash as the opening up on Oct. 12 and 13, 1982)  and reunion revues for the 20th anniversary of rock opera “Tommy” in 1989  and a staging of “Quadrophenia” at London’s Hyde Park (televised by HBO) and at MSG seven years later; plus a host of subsequent join-togethers in the meantime — this is most disappointing.

Especially after the boys didn’t capitalize on the 40th anniversary of “Thomas” last year (they did tour a bit down Down Under and made a short acoustic appearance at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust, while Roger ran out a solo run).

There are no Who tour dates listed on Ticketmaster,  the band’s official Web site, or a venerable historical one at http://www.thewho.net/

The Who Sell Out

Indeed, the only thing I can see (for miles) on the docket is a March 2 tribute to the troupe at Carnegie Hall by some 20 groups, an event that will benefit an array of organizations.

For guys who famously spoofed business with “The Who Sell Out” back in 1967, their upcoming Big Game performance’s gotta be — at least some of us hope — the prelude pitch to something beyond peddling Super Bowl caps and T-shirts.

(P.S.: Actually they do: Commercials are hawking The Who as part of Rock Band’s lineup.)

(P.S.S: The boys are playing “Quadrophenia” at the Royal Albert Hall on March 30 to benefit 10 years of the Teenager Cancer Trust.)

(P.S.S.S.: Pete and Roger are also plugging a 22-song “Live Greatest Hits” package, while long-time manager Bill Curbishley, in an interview for a piece about Super Bowl halftime shows in Feb. 3 edition of The New York Times, mentioned an upcoming tour.)

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