Bands salute the Who for VH1's 'Rock Honors'
Pearl Jam, Flaming Lips among performersSome of the biggest names in rock saluted the Who on Saturday night with performances during a taping for VH1's "Rock Honors" at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, but the biggest thrills were delivered by the honorees themselves. The event will air Thursday.
The Who, which now comprises lone surviving original members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, tore through classics like "You Better, You Bet" (which was stopped and then re-started due to sound issues), "Baba O'Riley," "Behind Blue Eyes," "Won't Get Fooled Again," "The Seeker," "Who Are You" and "My Generation."
The band also tapped into new material from the 2006 album "Endless Wire," such as "Two Thousand Years" and the stripped-down "Tea & Theatre."
Townshend and Daltrey's at times caustic relationship was in evidence during one exchange when Townshend said, "Thanks for giving us this night instead of a crappy piece of plastic," to which Daltrey answered, "I don't have any pieces of plastic!" Townshend's playful rejoinder: "You should try writing a song sometime."
Introduced by Sean Penn and backed by strings and horn section, Pearl Jam pulled off a stunning rendition of the Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me," which the band recorded for the 2007 Adam Sandler film "Reign Over Me." The group also debuted a cover of "The Real Me," which Jeff Ament's virtuous bass work echoing that of the Who's late John Entwistle.
Although comedy rock duo Tenacious D played "Squeeze Box" with two acoustic guitars, group member Kyle Gass payed tribute to the Who's trademark power. "Wanna know why they were the greatest? Because they were the first ones to really rock hard," he said.
Incubus, making what is planned to be its last live performance for some time, offered straight-ahead versions of the Who's "I Can See for Miles" and "I Can't Explain," while the Flaming Lips delivered its trademark showmanship by having frontman Wayne Coyne float into the audience inside a clear plastic bubble.
As they'd done 20 years ago while playing punk clubs at the dawn of their career, the Lips unveiled a medley of songs from the Who's famed rock opera "Tommy," including "Pinball Wizard," "I'm Free" and "See Me, Feel Me." The group kicked over its drum kit at the end, in tribute to one of late Who drummer Keith Moon's favorite moves.
Foo Fighters began the proceedings with a nod to the Who's own cover of Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues," popularized on its "Live At the Isle of Wight" album. Sueprgrass frontman Gaz Coombes, whose band is touring with the Foos, joined Dave Grohl and company to sing "Bargain," which featured an extended jam.
The taping also included comedian Adam Sandler's version of "My Generation," plus bits from "The Office" star Rainn Wilson, who impersonated Elton John's character Local Lad from "Tommy."