Roger Daltry | Hard rock live, Hollywood, fl | 11-1-17
The Who’s iconic vocalist, Roger Daltry, recreated much of his ensemble’s classic catalog, including radio hits and a few rarities on November 1st at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Fla. The 73-year-old Englishman took the stage waiving to the crowd of middle-aged concertgoers. Wearing black jeans, a white button down and sunglasses, Daltry was holding a pair of tambourines, as opposed to lyric sheets, like he did two nights earlier in Clearwater. “What a night to have a show,” he said. “Let’s see if we can get some energy going. Let’s have some fun. There’s enough misery in the world.”
The boys kicked off the fresh performance with the renowned instrumental “Overture” from Tommy. Behind the singer stood lead guitarist Frank Simes in a black leather jacket with a bright red handkerchief poking out of the chest pocket and jeans. While Pete Townshend is off enjoying his yearlong retreat, his bald-headed brother Simon Townshend was handling the rhythm guitar in jeans and a t-shirt. During “Pinball Wizard,” Daltry spun his microphone chord in giant circles, as if it were a lasso. Occasionally, he let it fly into the air and would catch the device just before singing a new verse into it. Blue spotlights shot from above as Daltry leaned his head back, pointed to the ceiling and bolted out the recognizable lyrics. Every spectator was on his or her feet. He asked, “What better way to start the show?
“So, I am trying to put a new show together,” the man continued. “It’s been a weird one. I am doing some of the old stuff that you are familiar with, but some of it is very unfamiliar stuff… There might be some train wrecks. But if there are, we’ll just have fun and we’ll get through them. We’ll try to do songs that the Who never even played onstage. At my age, it takes a little while to go. The brain is not quite what it used to be. The memory certainly isn’t. But anyway, this one is an old familiar one.”
Daltry’s raspy voice was fairly impressive during a fabulous rendition of “I Can See for Miles.” He fingered an acoustic throughout the sweet “Behind Blue Eyes.” We heard “It’s a Boy,” and Daltry told a story of recording the next number in a “shitty studio” located in his barn in 1973, the harmonious “Giving It All Away.” “The world is in a funny place,” Daltry announced. “I look at the news and I think we’ve all gone mad. So this one is for all those people out there as confused by it all, “Another Tricky Day.”
Before delivering a wonderful version of the Who’s funky “Athena,” Roger opened up a bit about aging. “You know, the worst thing about being where I am in my life is I am going deaf,” he explained. Daltry stated that it takes a little more time to get the sound right before a gig and he now experiences trouble hearing anything onstage. “So if you see me making funny gestures and swearing a little, it’s because I can’t hear what I am supposed to be hearing.”
Daltry’s recreation of "Who Are You" was phenomenal. The entire arena was on its feet, singing the well-known chorus, waving their arms and bobbing their heads to the distinguishable beat. Toying with an acoustic guitar again, the singer pointed to the crowd, asking the simple question, “Who are you?” A few daredevils even rushed the stage for a minute. Simon Townshend sang vocals on the Who’s Brit-poppy “Going Mobile,” followed by some pretty cool covers, Sammy Kaye & His Orchestra’s “Blueberry Hill,” Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and a wild version of Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues.”
Besides “Who Are You," the undeniable highlight of the evening was the strobe-lit "Baba O'Riley." Again, thousands stood up and waived their arms while chanting the well-known lyrics about teenage wasteland. Daltry delivered plenty of emotion as he continuously threw his arms up and down, dancing in place under green lights. After Simes’ impressive guitar solo, Daltry wound down the number a remarkable solo on the harmonica. The festivities drew to a close with a new Daltry number, the slow-paced “Heading Home.” Joined by a piano and a stand-up bass, he clenched the mic and sang in a high-pitched voice. It was a perfect choice for winding down the night.
Despite the marvelous set-list, the Daltry concert was not comparable to seeing the Who. Not only did old-time fans miss watching Pete Townshend’s manic windmill arm strokes around his instrument, but Daltry told tales of aging and hearing loss. The star of the show didn’t dance around like Mick Jagger and have thousands cheering for hours at a time. Don’t get me wrong, the show was plenty of fun, as it felt new and unpredictable. Daltry’s presentation in Hollywood was more laid-back than any of the Who’s legendary events, ranging from Woodstock to vast stadiums around the world. Roger Daltry’s performance was scaled down, intimate and made for an exceptional evening of live music. – Todd McFliker – Photos: Sean McCloskey