Thu, 07 July 2011:
Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
Bang on 8.30pm and out strides Dalts and his five band mates to a standing ovation from the sell-out 2300 braying punters: no-one has even played or sung a note yet.
R.D. does genuinely seem taken aback at this prolonged display of affection- even (or especially as) he isn't that good an actor, hah-hah!
"Blimey, this is more like an Oasis crowd!" he jokes and we're straight into 'Overture' from 'Tommy', which sounds uncannily like the record- restrained and with areas of grey which is a testament to how clever this band are. At times the various guitar, drums and keyboard parts are replicated exactly which is how Rog wanted it for this jaunt: less Sturm und Drang and more subtlety.
Rog's voice has benefited from whatever surgery was performed upon it, in that he sounds a little stronger but of course the ageing process will mean that he'll never be able to reach the highs of his youth.
He mentions the bedding-in problems that he is having with his in-ear monitors: apparently there is a tiny delay when compared to traditional wedge-type stage monitors but he knows that they are the only way that Pete will ever grace concert stage again, so they are worth persevering with.
The always thrilling opening to 'Amazing Jouney' brings the first microphone-twirling which isn't 100% successful: he lets go of it and comes close to braining Si Townshend which wouldn't have done the prospects of a 'Who' tour any good. Ever the trooper, Dalts retieves the situation and there is much good humour on display.
Rog does trade on his no-nonsense/Luddite image a little but he does make a valid point with regard to encores i.e. they are bullshit devices in the main: tonight he says, the band will play and then they will stop when they cannot do any more. Fair enough, Guv'nor and refreshing to hear.
Whatever you may think of 'Tommy', it still has some top tunes such as 'Acid Queen', 'I'm Free', 'Pinball Wizard' and of course the hardy pernnial 'See Me/Listening To You'. These timeless numbers still get folk up out of their seats and singing away although once the opera (!) was complete and packed away you could almost sense a feeling of "...right, let's have some fun now..." coming from the stage.
And so it proved with the song choices as we started with a thrilling and surging 'I Can See For Miles'...wow! Rog didn't stick to the sel-list either which led to Si Townshend pretending to twat him over the head with a beautiful acoustic guitar. Rog joshed that only his big brother could afford to break such an instrument. Corny perhaps but enjoyable nonetheless.
It really was a joy for all concerned to hear revved-up versions of 'Young Man Blues' and 'Pictures Of Lily'. Rog explained how his fondness for the music of Johnny Cash dated back to his 4 years of factory work when he and his colleagues would sing together against the din of the machinery. Anyway it is true to say that the lower registers of 'Ring Of Fire' or 'There You Go' suit his voice nowadays.
'My Generation' and 'Who Are You' both started off acapalla before exploding into the bombast that we 'WHO' fans crave, hah-hah! 'Baba O'Reilly' was as ecstatically received as ever, but when it came to Rog's harmonica finale he started off loud and proud before abruptly stopping and throwing it high in the air and leaving his bandmates to carry on to the crecendo finish while he cleaned his ears out- apparently he had water in his ears and couldn't hear too much!
They then restarted 'Baba...' from the harmonica break with much guffawing and mugging between Si T., drummer Scott Devours and band leader and guitarist Frank Simes.
The 2 1/2 hour show closes with Rog singing (and forgetting some of the lyrics) 'Blue, Red and Grey' armed with a ukele (cue the George Formby gags...well we are in the North West...) and backed by keyboard maestro Loren Gold.
It is on such a song that you can hear the limitations of Rog's voice but it also came at the end of a long show without a break, so...
He says that he loves the song and could never understand why Pete would never sing it. Anyway, with that we are done and it's another standing ovation for Dalts. His work here is done!