Curtis Ross, The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA - The question had to have been in the back of fans' minds for the first 90 minutes of The Who's set Sunday: Could singer Roger Daltrey manage The Scream? The Scream is that superhuman blood-curdling howl Daltrey emits at the climax of "Won't Get Fooled Again," a feat that is as much athletic prowess as it is emotional catharsis.
Daltrey's voice failed him March 13 and The Who abandoned its set seconds into opening number "I Can't Explain." Sunday's show, before a Ford Amphitheatre crowd of 9,500, was the make-up date guitarist Pete Townshend promised the crowd on March 13.
As on the earlier date, Daltrey took the stage clutching a mug of tea and Townshend slashed out the opening chords to "I Can't Explain." Even before he began singing, Daltrey looked like the cocky singer of yore, swinging his mic cord. When he sang the song's opening line - "Got a feelin' inside" - the crowd let off a roar that was part encouragement, part relief.
Daltrey's voice did sound rough in patches, but as he told the crowd, "what I've got is yours. And if you all sing along, no one gives a … anyway." The crowd did just that on "Baba O'Riley," nearly drowning out Daltrey on occasion. Sometimes the roughness worked to his advantage, as on "Man in a Purple Dress," where it emphasized the song's anger at judgmental authority figures.
Although Daltrey's voice was the center of attention, what most impressed Sunday night was the sound of The Who playing as a band. Bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Zak Starkey have the thankless task of replacing legends - John Entwistle and Keith Moon, respectively. But the playing of both was so enmeshed into the band's sound that it's inaccurate to think of them simply as hired hands.
Townshend was masterful as ever. A string of hits performed Sunday - "The Kids Are Alright," "My Generation," "Behind Blue Eyes" - attest to his place in rock's pantheon. And when that moment came in "Won't Get Fooled Again," when some in the crowd surely held their breath, Daltrey delivered, his "YEAH!" defying age, bronchitis, false leaders and the notion that The Who, two down and 40-plus years on, aren't still a vital voice for rock 'n' roll.