Daltrey redeems himself as a rock legend with ‘Tommy’ tour
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No, you probably won’t become awash in the 1970’s version of the young man with long, golden locks and soulful blue eyes launching a pinball revolution when Roger Daltrey takes the stage in Broomfield Oct. 16. But according to the reviews that count – those by the Canadians he disappointed on his 2009 tour – his shows a week or so ago portray a stronger, more nimble-voiced Daltrey pumping out all the tracks of “Tommy” (minus the 10-minute underture).
On Sept. 30, Daltrey’s “Pinball Wizard” spun the audience onto its collective feet in Toronto, and in the second-half iconic songs like “Who Are You,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Baba O’Riley” kept them in an upright ovation.
In 2009, Roger Daltrey toured North America in his “Use It or Lose It” tour, and by the time he reached Canada in November, it seemed he perhaps was losing it; though his body was buff and his chatty, frank demeanor (mostly) stood up to the somewhat unimpressed Toronto audience at Casino Rama, his voice cracked and went out several times as he struggled with what later revealed itself to be a precancerous growth on his vocal chords that resulted in surgery.
Though last Saturday the Toronto Sun quipped he’s “not singing like he used to in his heyday,” it’s hardly fair to compare a 67-rocker to his former 20-something psychedelic self. It’s a testament to Daltrey’s absolute love for music and performing that he still rocks a six-pack firm enough to pull off unbuttoning his shirt, after swinging his microphone wildly then catching it with a slight smile and wink of an eye.
The Sun did credit his signature moments last weekend on such rock opera standouts as “Sensation,” “I’m Free” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” Even when Daltrey was at his weakest in 2009, his sense of humor and humility spilled out in his 2009 Casino Rama show – at one point, he couldn’t help but nearly crack up as he sang “Hope I Die Before I Get Old.” Like Robert Plant, Daltrey changes up some of his former electric-rock classics to more bluesy, more mellow renditions that complement his voice abilities as they stand now.
The Montreal Gazette reported he “reclaimed his role in one of rock’s most enduring catalogues” when he delivered his Sept. 27 tunes with “volume, edge and empathy,” while the band effortlessly nailed Who classics and deeper cuts.
Though Pete Townshend (who has spent his last half year revisiting “Quadrophenia” and creating the five-disc box set due out in November) and Daltrey haven’t always seen eye to eye, Daltrey obviously still maintains a great affection for the 1969 rock opera his counterpart wrote.
And, he’s found a brother and best mate he said, in Pete’s younger sibling, Simon. Simon Townshend now carries a hefty portion of the show and sings the higher parts partially because Daltrey still showed “the occasional struggle to hit a high note or two” on Sept. 28, according to the Ottawa Citizen. Even so, The Montreal Gazette reviewed his execution of “Go to the Mirror” as something that couldn’t be sweeter. The second half of the 2 1/2-hour set was even stronger, according to the Gazette, and the highlight at the Ottawa show revved up the energy with The Who’s signature humor through songs recounting pubescent infatuation with a pinup girl in “Pictures of Lily,” mama usin’ her “Squeezebox,” and the crew “Goin’ Mobile,” (wheat, whew, beep-beep).
As a bonus, throughout his tour Daltrey has pulled out his ukulele, which Pete always said make him look “f—– stupid,” as well as given a shout out with a deep-voiced “Ring of Fire” to Johnny Cash, whom, during the Ottawa show, he said “still sits very deep in my soul.”
Apparently, the kids (that remain) are (still) alright.
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