Review: Roger Daltrey at 1STBANK Center, 10/16/11

Categories: Last Night

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Chip Kalback
Roger Daltrey last night at 1STBANK Center
ROGER DALTREY at 1STBANK CENTER | 10/16/11
Shortly after Roger Daltrey belted out the last note during his full performance of the Who's 1969 album Tommy in Broomfield last night, the legendary frontman summed up the record's significance. "I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did ... It is a classical piece of work," Daltrey declared. "That's how we treat it," he added, before likening the work to a piece by Mozart.

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Chip Kalback
Simon Townshend backed Roger Daltrey at 1STBANK Center last night
Supported by a four-member band that included Simon Townshend, younger brother of Who guitarist Pete, Daltrey showed plenty of reverence to the seminal concept album during his high-energy appearance at the 1STBANK Center. From the opening notes of the work's overture to the final chords of "We're Not Gonna Take It," the show served as a live paean to one of rock's early works of ambitious scope and careful complexity.

Photos: Roger Daltrey in Denver

Supplemented by simple animated shorts beamed onto an overhead screen, the song-by-song recreation of the album highlighted its impressive ambition and its core genius; the constant pace and keen attention to detail served to spotlight the basic elements of what would go on to become a full-fledged Broadway musical.

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Chip Kalback
Roger Daltrey last night at 1STBANK Center
But Sunday's show was more than a tribute to the album, or even to the hour-plus worth of tunes from the rest of the Who catalogue. The showcase served as an impressive tribute to Daltrey himself, to his place in the canon of storied rock frontmen. His voice was ragged at times during the show that spanned more than two hours, and Daltrey chatted casually between songs about the two years worth of recent throat surgery that, in effect, salvaged his singing voice.

But the near-capacity crowd didn't seem to mind the occasional false starts and few missed high notes. The 67-year-old Daltrey had the audience enraptured from his first set of vocals on "It's a Boy," and it seemed as if many of the grizzled Who fans in the audience could relate to the ravages of age. Neither did the absence of John Entwistle, Keith Moon and Pete Townshend dim the enthusiasm of a crowd that seemed to hang on every note.

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Chip Kalback
Roger Daltrey last night at 1STBANK Center
Welsh singer/songwriter Paul Freeman helped stoke the crowd's fervor with his opening act, delivering material that seemed to draw equally from folk structures and dense strumming styles that owed much to Townshend. While Freeman's act didn't boast any moments that couldn't be found during a higher quality open mic night at a coffee shop, his affable presence and banter with the crowd helped set the mood.

Photos: Roger Daltrey in Denver

Still, the energy seemed to ramp up by a factor of one hundred as soon as Daltrey appeared, lit with a sole, stark spotlight before the band broke in the overture from Tommy. On the screen over the band, simplistic images of fertilized eggs morphed into spheres that looked very much like pinballs. The circles morphed into the eyes of birds flying over the World War 2 battlefields where Tommy's father, Captain Walker has gone missing. Apart from these visual cues, the narrative onscreen was largely abstract.

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Chip Kalback
Roger Daltrey last night at 1STBANK Center
Unlike the Broadway musical version of the piece, there were no actors onstage to take the roles of Mrs. Walker, Tommy, the Gypsy or the Doctor. Instead, the story came through in the high-volume output of the band. Daltrey and Simon Townshend shared vocal duties in telling the story of the traumatized deaf, blind and mute Tommy; his parents scarred by war and sin; and the hordes who adopt the "Pinball Wizard" as their messiah.

The ambiance of innocence and hope that spilled out of Daltrey's lyrics on "1921" was almost palpable; the hypnotic allure of the character described in "The Acid Queen" was impossible to miss. The torture of "Smash the Mirror" was spelled out in bent electric guitar notes, and the twisted, carnival sounds of Keith Moon's "Tommy's Holiday Camp" made for an evocative departure from the rest of score, penned mostly by Pete Townshend.

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Chip Kalback
Roger Daltrey last night at 1STBANK Center
While Daltrey's voice showed occasional marks of his recent surgery in weak high notes, he belted out most of the score with aplomb. The crowd predictably roared for "Pinball Wizard," but Daltrey's delivery was nuanced and compelling on lesser-known tunes from the score like "Welcome" and "Sensation." Simon Townshend, bassist Jon Button, keyboardist Loren Gold, drummer Scott Devours and guitarist/arranger Frank Simes offered more-than-competent backup, recreating Moon's explosive percussion, Entwistle's elastic bass and the explosive lead exploits of Pete Townshend.

Photos: Roger Daltrey in Denver

After wrapping up Tommy, Daltrey didn't shy from the most vocally acrobatic numbers from the rest of the Who catalog, delivering "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Teenage Wasteland" with plenty of conviction. Citing the need to perform lower register songs toward the end of the show, he also offered a medley of Johnny Cash songs that included "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Ring of Fire."

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Chip Kalback
Roger Daltrey last night at 1STBANK Center
After a stunning version of "Baba O'Riley," the vocal strain of the night finally got to Daltrey. With the rest of the band off the stage, Daltrey took up a ukulele, and tried to soldier his way through "Blue, Red and Grey." The high registers were too much, and he admitted, "I'm not gonna make it" before thanking the audience and making his exit.
The failed foray into the high notes demanded by the instrument didn't make his departure any less dignified, nor did it dim the enthusiastic applause from the crowd of largely grizzled Who fans, many of whom left the venue in wonder that Daltrey had aged so well.

Page down for Critic's Notebook and Setlist


Location Info

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1STBANK Center

11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield, CO

Category: Music


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6 comments
DJR
DJR

It's a shame he missed on "Blue, Red, and Grey".  I saw him in St. Louis the week before and I found it to be the most enjoyable song of the evening. 

Frank Lucas Harlem
Frank Lucas Harlem

Townshend's hearing so shot, he may have to blow off '12 as a Who year. Yeah, his register is way off recent tours with the Who, I hope he can get back his highs much like Brian Wilson has reincarnated from '81.

Bpsycle
Bpsycle

I wish I was able to see this show. I've hummed "Tommy" my whole life thanks to my parents. I love the entirety of the performance, from the play to what the play represents, and to how it came to be. great review...but yea, Baba O'Riley...

Busterleon
Busterleon

Teenage Wasteland isn't a who song. If you're going to review a concert, you should be at very least familiar with song titles.. it's as embarrasing as forgetting someones name just after you meet them.. when everybody else knows it..

entwistle while you work
entwistle while you work

actually it is, but roger played baba o'riley. on life house by pete townshend there is a song titled teenage wastland and it's not like baba....

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