Roger Daltrey @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (11/20/2009)

You know his name as being one of the original founding members of The Who, a band that broke incredible ground in behalf of Rock & Roll music and whose sound is just as important today as it was when it first came upon the scene.  It’s pretty safe to say that they are one of the best Rock bands that ever walked the Earth and despite the passing of a couple of members they are still active and impressing audiences of the world today.  Tonight’s show would find the bands singer Roger Daltrey doing a short run of solo dates on his “Use It Or Lose It” tour and it was sure to be a night of wonderful memories.   Scroll past the logo below to see the full article on the official website.   The words are by Peter Parrella and the images are from me Ken P.

Logo - Roger Daltrey

Artist: Roger Daltrey
Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Square (New York, NY)
Opener: Paper Zoo
Date: 11/20/2009

At 65 years of age Roger Daltrey has embarked on what he’s dubbed the “Use It or Lose It” tour. The vocal chords are an instrument that must to be used or they turn to “jelly” he explained to the Nokia audience at the start of the night on November 20, 2009. Therefore he set out on a group of solo shows to keep his chops in good shape. As lead singer of The Who, Daltrey is an iconic figure, along with Zeppelin’s Robert Plant the epitome of “golden god” 1970’s classic rock star, frozen in time in some of pop media’s most memorable images. At “retirement age” the singer shows no sign of handing off the rock god mantel. He’s still open shirt buff and scrappy on stage; not afraid to admonish the audience about their smoking habits (Mr. D. has unfortunately developed a nasty allergy to the weedy stuff) and willing to challenge the oft too chatty crowd for their attention.

The show was presented in a format not unlike the MTV Storytellers programs. Roger embellished most songs with anecdotes & reminiscences not commonly heard in “Whodom”. We can assume that he has recently done some memory jogging for his upcoming autobiography and this was the oral & aural equivalent of his memoir. The stories were a treat for Who fans. Daltrey mused about his love of Johnny Cash being cultivated during his machine shop working days, his pet dog dying on the day he was to record the vocals for “Behind Blue Eyes”, the IRA bomb threat that accompanied his appearance with The Chieftains in Dublin, and waxed perplexed about the popularity of fan favorite “Naked Eye”, which he claimed to not remember recording.

Though pointedly prefacing this outing as “not a Who show” he did not shy away from presenting plenty of Pete Townshend penned songs, often focusing on more obscure material or rearrangements of familiar classic rock radio staples. A stripped out version of “Who Are You”, minus the synth track, opened the set and a reworked “Behind Blue Eyes” accentuated its gorgeous harmonies. For this New York City show Roger bowed to his band’s request and sang Quadrophenia’s vocal storm “The Real Me” (supplanting McVicar’s “Free Me”) much to the audience’s pleasure.

Getting a chance to play some personal favorites Daltrey chose two tunes from a late 1990’s multi-artist concept album called “Largo”. “Freedom Ride” and “Hand a Stone” (originally sung by Taj Mahal and Levon Helm, respectively) both worked nicely in the singer’s vocal range and he seemed pleased to wrap his voice around songs outside of the standard Who repertoire. An additional surprise cover tune was CCR’s “Born on the Bayou” with Daltrey identifying it as the only song he remembers hearing at The Woodstock Music & Arts Festival in 1969. The band tore through a fun impromptu jammy version. Working the lower end of his range – his Howling Wolf sweet spot – much as he did in the early days of The Who/High Numbers (e.g. “Bald Headed Woman”) he led the band through the stop time stomper “I’m A Man” which morphed into the walking blues style version of “My Generation”.

The band, which included current Who member Simon Townshend was top notch. They knew their stuff well, especially in consideration of their limited pre-tour rehearsal time, and often presented more note accurate versions of the classics than The Who themselves. Simon channeled his older brother on a spectacular version of “Going Mobile”, making it one of the highlights of the evening. The ubiquitous “Baba O’Riley” was handled expertly by drummer Scott Devours who locked onto the often elusive backing track and powered the band through this crowd pleaser.

For a “solo” tour it was most surprising to find songs from Daltrey’s actual solo catalog mostly missing. Though he aired the poppy “Days of Light” and politically spun “Walk on Water” (keeping Billy Nichols’ “Without Your Love” for his encore), most disappointingly absent were “It’s A Hard Life”, “Under A Raging Moon”, “After the Fire”, “Avenging Annie”, “One Man Band” and any number of other tiny gems that have studded his solo albums. Hopefully there will be more solo outings from Mr. Daltrey affording him the ability to perform some of these tunes and expand his audience beyond the AAD “classic rock” crowd. The ones who only seem to know “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” A lovely glimmer of what could be was seen at the end of the show as Daltrey donned a tiny ukulele (something that he said Pete refuses to do on stage) to sing “Blue, Red and Grey” from The Who By Numbers album with the audience softly singing along with this poignant tune. Great stuff.

Opening act, Paper Zoo, though treated rudely by some of the audience, were quite enjoyable and performed a solid set of sixties-centric original tunes. Their music is specifically reminiscent of the protean time when psychedelia was morphing into progressive rock. Fitting in with neo-retro groups like Wolfmother and Secret Machines, and seemingly sharing their need to play period equipment (Orange amps on stage) the band will remind casual listeners of early Pink Floyd, but the deeper touchstones seem to be The Move, maybe even Atomic Rooster. “Laughing at Legba” has become a favorite of mine for its distorted opening vocals, loopy chorus and tinge of Tull. Definitely worth a listen.

Paper Zoo Set List:
1. Breakfast
2. Hollywood Recluse
3. Laughing Legba
4. Solitude
5. Paper Zoo
6. Black Cat
7. Sun

Roger Daltrey Set List:

1. Who Are You
2. Pictures of Lily
3. Behind Blue Eyes
4. Tattoo
5. Days of Light
6. Freedom Ride
7. Gimme A Stone
8. Going Mobile
9. Naked Eye
10. My Generation
11. I Can See For Miles
12. Squeeze Box
13. Walk on Water
14. Young Man Blues
15. Baba O’Riley
16. Johnny Cash Medley
17. Blue, Red and Grey
18. Without Your Love

Nokia Theatre NYC: Roger Daltrey hits The Big Apple
Nokia Theatre NYC: Roger Daltrey hits The Big Apple

Of course if you didn’t have a ticket before this evening you were going to be very sad with what that very same display announced again and again.

Success!!! A Sold Out Show in NYC!!!  Good Job Mate
Success!!! A Sold Out Show in NYC!!! Good Job Mate

Did you know you can bypass unnecessary fees by going to the box office for tickets as opposed to ordering via Ticketmaster?  I love that so if you are near the place and a show you want to see is coming up, do yourself a favor and don’t get left out in the cold or heat, depending on when you are going to see the show.

Official Website:
Official Website:

The Marquee for the Nokia Theatre in Times Square was rather impressive tonight with its bright white and blues as it showcased to the tourists and everyone else who could see it that the legendary Rocker was appearing here this evening.  Surely this was going to be an amazing night of music.

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