Amazing Journey: Roger Daltrey Plays Tommy

Roger Daltry at the Agganis Arena Lucien Flores/Daily Free Press Staff

Originally Published In The Daily Free Press on 9/21/11

On Sunday, British rock royalty graced Boston University’s campus when The Who’s legendary singer, Roger Daltrey, brought the band’s seminal rock opera, Tommy – and then some – to Agganis Arena.
The larger-than-life singer got on stage at 8:40 p.m., and after saying a few appreciative words on Dr. Steven Zeitels of Mass. General Hospital, who treated Daltrey when his voice began failing last year, the singer started the show appropriately with “Overture.” Daltrey didn’t banter much during Tommy and instead elected to steamroll through the album.
Aside from the allure of seeing the 42-year-old album played start to finish, it was highly entertaining to hear songs played that wouldn’t make it into a standard set, specifically the disturbingly creepy “Tommy’s Holliday Camp,” “Cousin Kevin” and “Fiddle About.” Rockers such as “Go To The Mirror,” “I’m Free” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” enthralled and the audience went crazy for “Pinball Wizard.”

One of the questions I had before the show was what would happened when Roger got to end of Tommy. I figured he’d play a few more songs but little did I know that he’d go on for another hour. It’s always great to see musicians, especially stars such as Roger Daltrey who don’t even need to go on tour, deliver passionate shows. In a world where mid-level indie bands play for less than an hour, it’s refreshing to see 67-year-old Roger Daltrey having a blast playing for over two hours.
The legendary crooner did his signature microphone swings and even unbuttoned his shirt near the end – don’t we all wish we aged this well? Highlights of the second half included the unexpectedly fab “Pictures of Lily,” the sweltering “Young Man Blues” and the iconic “Baba O’Reilly.”
Playing the role of Pete Townshend on this tour is his brother, Simon Townshend, 16 years Pete’s junior. While the younger Townshend is certainly apt and has a set of vocal chords ever so similar to Pete’s, the guitarist doesn’t have the same beloved mannerisms of his older brother, namely Pete’s frequent jumping, windmilling and butt shaking. I’m of a similar vein. While Daltrey was great, one can’t help but miss Keith Moon with his exuberant eye-popping and maniac drumming and John Entwistle with his fantastic bass.
But there is no reason to dwell on the past. Roger Daltrey delivered a fantastic and passionate performance and those lucky enough to witness the spectacle will be talking about the singer’s booming voice and remarkable vigor for days.

And then….

On Sept. 15, Led Zeppelin took Paradise Rock Club. Make that Led Zeppelin 2…the wig-clad cover-band. The band played a collection of Zeppelin’s most popular numbers with no real surprises and awkwardly referred to each other as “Robert Plant,” “Jimmy Page,” “John Bonham” and “John Paul Jones.” While these incognito musicians are talented and can mimic many Zep tunes, every time I glanced at their faces and every time I caught a glimpse of their real hair, I grew a bit sad.
However, don’t count these guys out. While I didn’t find the bombardment of what is essentially a Led Zeppelin greatest hits CD that entertaining, the audience certainly did and ate of every second of Led Zeppelin 2’s act. I guess I just have to finally accepted that this is all we’re going to get…

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