For a man who famously sang “I hope I die before I get old," at 67 years old, Roger Daltrey certainly seemed to
be enjoying himself. He walked on to the stage at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall in ultra relaxed mode with a mug of
tea and finished the set on the ukulele.
Before a note was played in anger Daltrey took to the mic to introduce the evening’s proceedings to an excited
crowd. Whilst the night was primarily to celebrate the rock opera Tommy he made clear there would be time
for some old favourites and a few surprises as well, what followed didn’t disappoint.
The band stormed through the full Tommy track listing and were on blistering form, particularly on the
ever popular hits such as The Acid Queen, Pinball Wizard, I’m Free and the closing track
We’re not gonna take it, which was met with an ovation from the capacity crowd.
Daltrey had told the crowd that the evening wouldn’t end with Tommy and he took the opportunity to air
a few classic songs. He made a point of explaining that without Pete Townshend this was not a concert by The Who,
though his touring band, Frank Simes (guitar), Scott Deavours (Drums), Jon Button (Bass), Loren Gold (Keyboards)
and Simon Townshend, Pete’s brother also on guitar made a fine job of recreating the iconic sound, whist putting
a new twist on some old favourites.
The band kicked off the second part of the show with I Can See For Miles, Pictures of Lily and
Behind Blue Eyes. Daltrey explained that prior to his time with The Who he earned his living working in a
sheet metal factory and they went on to perform a Johnny Cash medley, in reference to the music that got him
through those days. Real Good Looking Boy was dedicated to Elvis Presley with Daltrey sighting him as the
man that created rock n’ roll music.
As an old school “face” Daltrey insisted there would be no encores, as he’d prefer to fit in more songs instead.
This paved the way for the crowd to roar approval at the iconic introduction to Baba O’Riley. Towards the
end of an epic gig, the fans certainly weren’t complaining and the band left the stage for Daltrey to perform
Red, Blue and Grey. Apparently this is a song that Townshend senior is reluctant to perform on the ukulele
for want of looking foolish, Daltrey didn’t have any such reservations and it was a fitting, if somewhat surreal
end to the show.
The most overwhelming feeling of the evening was just how much Daltrey was enjoying performing live with
reassuring characteristic ‘take no nonsense’ utterances throughout the show. Particular dislike was expressed for
the earpiece which proved intrusive to a full blooded harmonica blast. This wasn’t The Who, nor was it intended to
be. The gig was a celebration of some of the finest rock and roll songs ever made and they deserve to be heard.
Hopefully when Pete Townshend is in a position to tour again, The Who will ensure that classic rock songs
reverberate around huge stadia where they belong and if this performance is anything to go by, Daltrey will be all
too happy to be there leading from the front.