Music News/Reviews



By David DeRocco                    

Friday night at the OLG Stage, Daltrey and Townshend delivered something fans of The Who who have attended the band’s various concerts over the years have never gotten to see live: they played “Going Mobile.”

It seems implausible, but The Who never played "Going Mobile" live. Mind you, this night wasn’t The Who gracing the OLG Stage – it was Roger Daltrey on a solo tour, with Simon Townshend, brother of Roger’s longtime bandmate and collaborator, Pete, as accompanying guitarist.  But if you closed your eyes, you’d swear you were listening to the classic lineup of arguably the world’s greatest rock and roll band delivering the goods on a warm June evening in Niagara Falls.

“Going Mobile” was just one of the many classic Who tracks Daltrey had tucked into his song bag, which he presented to his adoring masses over the course of a stripped down two hour show.  From the opening notes of “Let My Love Open the Door” to the set-shortened finale of “Baba O’Riley,” this was a night of greatest hits sprinkled with a few solo numbers – and an unexpected cover of CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” which fit perfectly with Daltrey’s well-aged vocal register.

Speaking of that unmistakable voice, the 80-year-old frontman was in amazingly fine form. Never one to prance about like some of his more flamboyant contemporaries (Jagger, Plant, Tyler, Stewart, et al), Daltrey has always been the stoic and stalwart Englishman, channelling his aggression into his singing rather than his dance routines, and this show was reflective of his usual performance. However, Daltrey’s voice was like a well-aged Niagara merlot, rich and full-bodied and full of high notes that might challenge lessor singers of his age and capabilities. Particularly strong were songs like “Who Are You,” “The Kids Are Alright,” and the track “Another Trickey Day” from The Who’s ninth album, Face Dances.

Daltrey was also a man confident enough to know and accept his limitations – rather than risk a vocal breakdown during the climactic scream of “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” he reached out to the audience and invited them to give singing it a try, seeking empathy from his fans for having had to deliver that scream night after night for the better part of six decades.

In between songs, Daltrey was affable, animated and surprisingly chatty. He read a selection of questions that had been presented to him previously, revealing that he hated being in the studio, that he spent four years as a sheet metal worker, that he thoroughly enjoyed his time with Anne Margaret and Tina Turner during the filming of Tommy, and that he’s determined to get the Keith Moon biopic made – once he finds the right director.

Perhaps the evening’s most poignant moment, however, was during Daltrey’s performance of the gentle ballad “Without Your Love” from the McVicar soundtrack. After delivering the lines “If I could travel far, if I could touch the stars, where would I be without your love,” Daltrey looked skyward, scanning the crowd, seemingly soaking it all in with a moment of reflection on the wonderful joys his career – and his fans – have given him. For this die-hard fan of Daltrey, it was a beautiful parting gift to receive knowing we may not have a chance to see him on stage again.  


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