Veda Jo Jenkins
"Take a seat. It's going to a long show. This is a f*****g rock opera. It's going to be long" Roger Daltrey on opening night of his North America tour of Tommy at the Seminole Hard Rock Live in Hollywood.
Daltrey wasn't kidding. For the next hour and 10 minutes the lead singer of The Who and his band didn't even stop for air. Performing the complete album of Tommy from start to finish, Daltrey took the audience through an audio orgasm backed by subliminal visuals. But it wasn't the visuals that put me over the edge. It was Daltrey and his band with a truly amazing, mind-blowing; over-the-top performance that puts Daltrey back on top and into 2011. Hard to believe it's been 42 years since its original release.
One of the greatest rock bands of all time, The Who's amazing combination of Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Keith Moon and John Entwistle was a unique combination that could never be recreated. Those genuine personalities and guitar-smashing moments could never be duplicated but having Simon Townshend (Pete's brother) on guitar does add an element to the band performing with Daltrey today and Scott Deavons on the drums does Keith Moon proud, God rest his soul.
Add in Frank Simes on guitar, Jon Button on bass and Loren Gold on keyboards and we have an instrumental package that will rock you back into time. Daltrey is definitely the key component but without the band, songs from the album Tommy and other The Who hits just wouldn't cut it. The band was so punctual, their timing so implicit, their lead-ins so imperative that the band becomes a huge part of the success of this show. As much as we would have loved to witness the original members, 40 years later this combination was a close as it gets.
I see a lot of shows and this has been the best show of 2011 and a must see for anyone, ranking right up there with Roger Waters' The Wall. It wasn't so much the visuals that outstand the audience but Daltrey's high energy and strong vocals as he moved through song after song. It's hard to believe Daltrey had surgery on his vocal chords back in December of 2010.
I am so thankful I had the opportunity to experience it. I was not the only one. Everyone at the Seminole Hard Rock was up on their feet, the applause almost deafening especially after they played We're Not Gonna Take It - the final song of Tommy. As Daltrey swung the microphone in tempo with the song just as he had done years before, you couldn't help but rise out of your seat and sing along to "Listening to you, I get the music, Gazing at you, I get the heat. Following you, I climb the mountains, I get excitement at your feet."
Excitement was the feeling of the night.
Daltrey, who is 67, claimed he had a few "senior moments" with the lyrics but to the audience he never skipped a beat. In fact, his vocals were so solid and strong, the band so tight with all the instrumentals you could have closed you eyes and been listening to The Who perform live back in 1969. For those who weren't there, Tommy was said by many to be the highlight of Woodstock. As seen on the films The Kids Are Alright and Woodstock, Roger Daltrey began to sing "See Me, Feel Me" just as the sun began to rise. John Entwistle, the bass player at the time was quoted saying, "God was our lighting man".
Whether you saw them at Woodstock or the movie, which was released in 1975, The Who has always incorporated parts of this rock opera into its live performances but never all of it. So for Daltrey to come back to the stage 40-plus years later and give new life to this album is a blessing. It truly is a masterpiece.
As Daltrey put it, "First nights are never easy especially on this piece. It's a masterpiece, it's bloody good enough."
Good enough is an understatement considering it was produced in a studio and pulling off a live version requires filling those empty instrumentals spots with new talent. The combination of talent Daltrey has put together is phenomenal.
Daltrey didn't just perform Tommy. No he wasn't done yet. Daltrey called part two of the show "f*****g around a bit". Well if this f*****g around, I'm a lazy S.O.B.
Daltrey played another 50 minutes of songs. He began with "I Can See For Miles", then into "Who Are You" with outstanding guitar by Frank Simes and Simon Townshend and drums by Scott Deavons. Then they played "Behind Blue Eyes", "Giving It All Away" and "Days of Light" and even a Taj Mahal song, "Gimme a Stone".
Moving forward, Simon Townshend sang "Going Mobile", one of my favorites and then Daltrey moves into a Johnny Cash melody ending with "Ring of Fire". But the audience could not mistake the opener for the "Baba O'Riley" as they stood in admiration, and appreciation their fists pumping the air and playing air drums.
The cheers from the audience slowly settled down as Daltrey took the stage alone, a banjo in hand. "They all left me" joked Daltrey.
"Thank you for coming tonight and supporting me-can't do this alone without your support. You are up here with me. This one's for you," Daltrey said.
He then began "Without Your Love", a ballad from which the lyrics tell all:"What would I do without your love? Who would I be without your love?"