As a Who fan since the time My Generation WAS my generation, seeing Roger Daltry perform Tommy was an opportunity not to be missed. Originally he was appearing at Ragley Hall but presumably due to poor ticket sales, the only option was the slightly less atmospheric surroundings of Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
Last time I’d been to Wolverhampton it was to see my daughter in panto and on that occasion finding my way around Wolverhampton’s road system would have made the Crystal Maze look like a short and straight section of the M1. Consequently my wife and I settled for the rather unfairly named Yam Yam Tram. However, after parking up in the Jewellery Quarter the tram ride was a completly stress free experience and in no time at all we were soon queuing up at the Civic. The staff could not have been nicer and my only complaint was a bill of circa £6 for a Coke and a pint of Bank’s original – undoubtedly the most expensive pint of mild I’ve ever consumed.
The warm up act was a solosinger/guitarist Paul Freeman…very competent if not particularly memorable although he got the crowd going with a good cover of a Travelling Wilburies number. This was followed by a roar of acclaim as Mr Daltry took the stage. His performance of Tommy was exactly as I remember the album and Roger, who must easily qualify for free prescriptions, was in fine voice – which I suppose shows the rock and roll lifestyle ain’t all bad. Highlights included energetic renditions of Pinball Wizard and I’m Free.
All through the rock opera rendition he was ably supported by an array of talented musicians including Pete Townsend’s kid brother Simon.
Post-Tommy,the enthusiastic audience were obviously expecting an airing of Who classics and started shouting out for Baba O’Reilly, Behind Blue Eyes and the rest. In response Daltrey launched into the iconic I Can See For Miles, Squeezebox and Pictures of Lily.
He then played one or two quirkier Who numbers including Tattoo and a couple of excellent sogs off one of their more obscure albums, which I’d never heard before, including one with a Greek influence not unlike some of the tracks on Robert Plant’s Egyptian’influenced No Quarter. A respectful nod, maybe, to Mr Plant, who was apparently in the audience. Perhaps slightly bizarrely Roger then went through a medley of Johnny Cash numbers before returning to the Who classic My Generation….although by then his voice was starting to wilt a bit. He did manage a respite, however, when Simon T did a more than passable rendition of Going Mobile.
We had to leave just before the end to catch the last tram back to Brum, reflecting on a performance that showed there was plenty of life in the old Daltrey yet. Oh,and by the way, Roger – the comings and goings of the audience during your performance wasn’t because they were bored, it’s just that when a bloke reaches a certain age….