Roger Daltrey Previews 2024 Tour With Early Concert—Review

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Roger Daltrey and Katie Jacoby in San Diego, May 6, 2024 (Photo: Roger Froehlich; used with permission)

Many folks have approached the recent appearances of The Who as if the band were the boxer who did not know when to hang up his gloves. Other than a couple of shows at the 2024 edition of their Teenage Cancer Trust benefit concerts, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey have no other scheduled performances together on the calendar. With Townshend busy earlier this year preparing for the return of the musical Tommy to Broadway, Daltrey announced his own solo tour featuring many members of The Who’s touring band. His May 6 concert San Diego’s gorgeous Rady Shell at Jacob’s Park—surrounded on three sides by water—preceded an 11-date U.S. run by five weeks. “The Guv’nor” turned 80 on March 1.

The show opened with a trio of Townshend tunes: “After The Fire,” “Getting in Tune” and “I Can See For Miles.” The first was released in 1985 on a Daltrey solo album and was seen by many as Townshend’s farewell to the height of The Who’s prowess.

After the fire the fire still burns
The heart grows older but never ever learns
The memories smolder and the soul always yearns
After the fire the fire still burns

Various fans have noted that “I Can See For Miles” would have worked well within the context of Tommy, but as a single Daltrey’s vocal delivered it with aplomb and still does. (Of all The Who’s significant discography, it is their highest-charting U.S. single, reaching #9 in 1967.)

It is hard work for Daltrey’s band to compete with the memories of a Who concert, even its latest incarnation. But they acquitted themselves well in San Diego. They’re led by guitarist Simon Townshend, keyboardist Loren Gold, bassist Jon Button, violinist Katie Jacoby and drummer Scott Devours. The younger Townshend sang “Going Mobile,” evoking his brother Pete’s vocals on a song The Who apparently never performed live.

[We apologize for the inconvenience; you’ll need to click on the video link to watch it on YouTube.]

1971’s Who’s Next was over-indexed in the setlist, which is understandable as it is the gem of The Who’s prodigious output. “Behind Blue Eyes” was given a suitably chilling rendition; Pete has always said that his most personal songs are best sung by Daltrey.

The audience sang along to “Squeeze Box,” the too-clever-by-half hit from 1975. As for “Tattoo,” a minor single from the late ’60s, Daltrey said, “Pete saw into the future when he wrote it; today you are naked without one.”

Daltrey sprinkled various stories throughout the evening, pulling from his cheeky autobiography Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite (the title is how the singer feels about the teacher who kicked him out of school at age 15 with a reprimand, “Daltrey, you’ll never amount to anything”).

During the show’s second half, the tempo picked up with “Another Tricky Day,” prompting Daltrey to display the trademark whirl of his mic for the first time. Two gorgeous songs about the audience (“The Kids Are Alright” and “Without Your Love”) bookended a scorching “Who Are You.” The audience rose to its feet as many gravitated to the front of the stage.

[We apologize for the inconvenience; you’ll need to click on the video link to watch it on YouTube.]

“Baba O’Riley” was the evening’s highpoint. The opening track on Who’s Next contains arguably the best synthesizer motif of the last five decades, and Pete Townshend’s original recording is doubtlessly used on stage as Gold added little more than minor ripples on the keyboard. Jacoby took the spotlight for the amazing violin solo building to the song’s climax. She has been a fixture for many years when The Who tour.

All in all, Daltrey was in fine shape. His 60 years as Townshend’s sparring partner would indicate the singer is not ready to hang up the boxing gloves.

Daltrey’s eleven-date run begins June 10, with special guest KT Tunstall for some of the others and Dan Bern for others. Tickets are available here.

Brad Auerbach

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