Roger Daltrey -- Concert Review

Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Roger Daltrey has dubbed his current solo jaunt the "Use It or Lose It" tour, but his show Friday night at the Nokia demonstrated that sometimes you can use it and lose it as well. The 65-year-old(!) Who singer had some vocal difficulties as his lengthy performance progressed, which he partly blamed on the cloud of marijuana smoke emanating from the audience.

As he put it at the end of the evening, it was "a hard show but a good one." Daltrey was in a rather prickly mood, complaining vociferously about the venue's acoustics, the heat and the constant hubbub that led him at several points to loudly berate the audience.

Still, it's likely that no one in the crowd was regretful about having had the opportunity to see the legendary rock singer in an intimate setting, performing many numbers that he doesn't have the chance to sing on the Who tours.

"This is not a Who show," the singer declared at the beginning, before adding "I'm Townshend's biggest fan, and his sparring partner."

The set list for the generous, nearly two-hour show was well chosen. There were plenty of Who favorites for the fans, including the lead-off "Who Are You" as well as "Baba O'Riley," "The Real Me," "Behind Blue Eyes," "I Can See for Miles" and a bluesy "My Generation." But he also took the opportunity to perform such relative rarities as "Tattoo," "Blue Red and Grey" and "Pictures of Lily," as well as the crowd-pleasing "Squeeze Box."

Another standout that never makes Who set lists was "Going Mobile," with the vocals strongly handled by Pete's brother Simon Townshend, an integral part of the terrific five-piece band.

Daltrey clearly relished the opportunity to stretch out his repertoire, singing solo hits ("Days of Light," "Who's Gonna Walk on Water," "Without Your Love"), loving covers ("Born on the Bayou," a Johnny Cash medley), and Celtic-flavored arrangements of a couple of numbers from the obscure "Largo" album, including Taj Mahal's "Freedom Ride."

He was also in a decidedly chatty mood, somewhat to the show's detriment. Part of the reason for the crowd's restlessness was his overly long song introductions, which, although obviously heartfelt, were more appropriate for a "VH1 Storytellers" episode than a packed club and which severely dragged down the evening's pacing.

By the end of the show, his voice was clearly shot. But despite his vocal problems, Daltrey delivered a memorable performance that made one all the more excited about the next Who tour, whenever it might be.

The four-piece band Paper Zoo delivered a strong opening set that was more than appropriate for the occasion in its canny blending of rock, pop and psychedelia that recalled any number of '60s- and '70s-era bands.

Venue: Nokia Theatre, New York (Friday, Nov. 20)
comments powered by Disqus