Roger Daltrey was sceptical when approached by the impresario David Fishof to take part in the British Rock Symphony, Nigel Williamson writes. He only agreed to front the extravaganza when he was satisfied that it wasn't simply classical musicians playing pop music but was built around a traditional rock band using the additional dynamics of an orchestra to create "a big dramatic sound."
As a veteran of two rock operas, Daltrey was an obvious choice as the main man for the three-hour show which now tours some of the stately homes of England. But the title is seriously misleading. Alice Cooper singing School's Out was hardly British, for long periods the band plodded rather than rocked, and it most certainly was not a symphony.
The evening might be better termed a rock cabaret built around a series of tributes to the great bands of the 1960s and 1970s. Paul Young fronted an anodyne Beatles slot that included Imagine, Blackbird and Come Together while the leather-clad Cooper sang Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall. Daltrey, having delivered an unconvincing Jagger on Street Fighting Man, then saved the first half with an emotional See Me Feel Me.The second half was enlivened by the appearance of former Procul Harum singer Matthew Fisher for A Whiter Shade Of Pale and, more adventurously, the band's minor hit Conquistador. But the rest of the fare was depressingly predictable. Daltrey slaughtered Let It Be in gruesome fashion, although he made up for it with a great version of his own war-horse, Pinball Wizard. The arrangements were mostly uninspired, although the Led Zeppelin compositions Stairway To Heaven
Profits from the tour are being used to fund instruments and tuition for struggling young musicians. But if you want an evening of unabashed rock nostalgia, you might be better advised to make a donation to the cause and spend the night at home with a bottle of wine and the original albums.