Roger Daltrey – Clyde Auditorium, 6th July 2011
See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me.
Yep, a show advertised as ‘Roger Daltrey plays Tommy & The Who’s greatest hits’ is going to be a bit special and this gig didn’t disappoint. Playing with a band of accomplished musicians – including Pete Townsend’s younger brother Simon – Daltrey came on and gave a little preamble about why he is playing Tommy in its entirety. He felt something was lost in the musicality of the album during the whole circus that surrounded The Who’s live shows back in the day, and he wanted to bring Tommy back.
The band ripped through the opening Overture before lashing straight into It’s A Boy. There was no doubt as to the capability of the band on show; as for Townsend junior, he may not be his brother’s equal on the guitar but he is arguably better than Pete on vocals. He carried out Townsend’s role in Tommy wonderfully well. Although, when songs like Tommy’s Holiday Camp and Fiddle About were played it was with sad longing I wished Keith Moon was there to add his unique eccentricity to proceedings. Alas.
Daltrey is getting on, and whilst in the lower octaves his voice is as remarkable as ever, he did struggle wantonly to find a lot of high notes which were generally out of his range. He complained about the air conditioning later on but his struggles were apparent from the off. That said, the harmonies of the backing band more than made up for this weakness and were a particular highlight of the overall performance.
Tommy was performed start-to-finish in line with the original album, with the exception of the 10 minute long Underture which was understandably omitted from the set. Standouts were Pinball Wizard, Christmas and Sally Simpson but this trio were eclipsed by the raucous closer We’re Not Gonna Take It which was met with rapturous applause from an ecstatic crowd.
After Tommy, Daltrey and co stayed on stage – none of this break stuff for old Roger – to do a selection of classics from The Who’s back catalogue. Albeit, the strapline suggesting it was a greatest hits package was shown to be a bit of a false promise when tracks like Going Mobile (brilliantly sung by Simon Townshend) and Pictures of Lily featured in between a Johnny Cash melody and Young Man’s Blues. My Generation and Who Are You? were given alternative version treatment and Behind Blues Eyes was appropriately muted, as befitted its place in the set. Whilst not a greatest hits selection per se, getting to see some of these tracks done in a more intimate venue than The Who would ordinarily play was worth the admission fee alone.
His voice may have less range and power than before, but Daltrey is still a legend and a showman. He had the crowd eating from his hand during Ring of Fire through nothing more than imposing his personality, a personality that made the entire evening a rather pleasant experience.
James A. Stewart