Wednesday 17 January 2018

ROCK

ROGER DALTREY

EAMON SWEENEY

MARLAY PARK, RATHFARNHAM

The merits of The Beatles and The Stones are blatantly obvious, but it's worth acknowledging that The Who are also bona fide members of rock's uppermost elite. In addition to single-handedly pioneering a startling brand of power pop and being the loudest live band in the world, they also forged the seminal Tommy in 1969.

The world's first rock opera was much more than a daring experiment, but a phenomenon in itself, selling more than 20 million copies, inspiring Pink Floyd to create The Wall and raising the bar for what an album was capable of achieving.

In 2011, frontman Roger Daltrey is celebrating the legacy of Tommy with a live tour. While some may grumble that live Who music is nothing without the trademark windmill power chords of iconic axeman Pete Townsend, Daltrey does a sterling job in confounding the doubters. Daltrey approaches the live classic album proposition perfectly, blasting off with the attention-grabbing 'I Can See For Miles', 'Pictures of Lily' and a rare rendition of his collaboration with the Chieftains, 'Behind Blue Eyes,' before getting stuck into the meat and two veg of the matter.

Hearing Tommy live is a timely reminder of just how ambitious and seminal it remains. While featuring a complex series of pop and rock arrangements, it's also highly accessible and certainly no wilful exercise in art-rock indulgence.

Daltrey and his band perform it magnificently. He's clearly put a lot of work and effort into this production, painstakingly auditioning a band and rehearsing very thoroughly.

Unsurprisingly, the evergreen 'Pinball Wizard' gets one of the biggest cheers of the night.

A few more anthems light up the encore set, namely 'Who Are You', a staggering 'Baba O'Reilly', 'Young Man Blues' and a strange stripped-down acoustic blues version of 'My Generation'.

Bizarrely, he plays a mercifully brief medley of Johnny Cash songs that fail to match the calibre of the rest of the evening.

However, this is a minor grumble for a marathon set that weighs in at a whopping two hours and forty minutes.

His band mate Pete Townsend's tribute is spot on and very touchingly emotional.

Daltrey virtually re-invented the role of the lead singer as a pseudo-messianic figure, helping spawn the stage personae of Robert Plant and Jim Morrison and a countless horde of other pretenders to the throne.

Irish Independent

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