Without The Who, Daltrey still shines in the spotlight

A review of Roger Daltrey at the House of Blues on November 8, 2009

, Staff Writer
It’s always a little difficult to gauge the quality of performance from a longtime performer like The Who’s Roger Daltrey. Do you judge the performance based on how closely he emulates the sound of his original band, or on the merit of the solo act? In the case of his performance at the House of Blues this past Sunday, both scenarios are viable: Daltrey mixed his own works with classic Who songs in a performance that ran the gamut of his lengthy career. Ultimately, I’m sure seeing the Who themselves was probably a better show, but Mr. Daltrey’s show was one that left everyone feeling satisfied, and it’s always heartening to see the old fans hear their favorite songs from their own times of youth.

Daltrey took the stage looking like a total rock star, white shirt open, busting out the immediately-recognizable “Who Are You”. The band, including Simon Townshend on guitar, was clicking right from the get-go. Any worries of the performance being more a nostalgia act than any actual musical demonstration were quickly done away with. Daltrey’s vocals were fantastic in spite of claiming he was getting over a cold, screaming and nailing his notes impeccably. The set continued with a number of Who favorites, including a wonderful rendition of “Behind Blue Eyes”, joined by Townshend on some great sounding backup vocals, before Daltrey launched into his own piece, “Days of Light”, a nice light-hearted piece that had everyone grooving together.

At one point, things got a little less light-hearted when a woman in the front tried lighting up a joint. Roger got upset and tossed a bottle of water on her, after which she was ejected from the venue. To be fair, he says he’s allergic to the stuff, and having smoke in your face while trying to perform could be kind of annoying. Though after this moment passed, the performance seemed to improve, with Daltrey harnessing that anger, as he is wont to do. “Young Man Blues” and “Baba O’Riley” ended the set perfectly, the older people in the audience smiling and cheering like they were at their first Who show again. When the band came back on, they played a medley of Johnny Cash songs, only furthering the nostalgia people were feeling. The “Blue Red and Grey” that followed alone was worth the price of admission, and the evening ended with “Without Your Love”, an appropriate sort of homage to the fans who have been seeing Mr. Daltrey perform for so many years.

All in all, the evening was a successful one. It’s hard to disagree that Roger Daltrey’s still got his chops even after all these years, and is still enjoying performing. You always run the risk of coming off as an old has-been, but Daltrey skillfully avoided appearing as such, showing that he can still play and rock out with the best of them.

 

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