Photos and review: Roger Daltrey plays "Tommy" at the 1stBank Center - Reverb

Live review: Roger Daltrey @ the 1stBank Center

Almost 50 years ago Roger Daltrey’s buoyant phrasing and ragged energy fueled the Who’s meteoric rise to one of the world’s most influential rock bands.

Yet unlike most superstar rockers from the ’60s and ’70s, little has changed for Daltrey, who rocked his band’s 1969 album “Tommy” and then some at Broomfield’s 1stBank Center Sunday.

The superhuman high notes, the guitar-smashing and the golden tresses may be gone, but Daltrey’s still got game, keeping 1stBank’s graying crowd on their feet all night. Daltrey and his five-top band rolled through “Tommy,” the first-ever and best-ever rock opera, note-for-note, skipping only the 10-minute “Underture.”

The classically composed tale of the deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard who climbs to messianic status saw 67-year-old Daltrey — wearing an untucked, barely buttoned white shirt and blue jeans — twirling his mic with aplomb and reeling through 25 orchestral songs. Simon Townsend, brother of the Who’s maestro Pete — who composed most of the operatic “Tommy” — helped Daltrey find the higher notes on “Acid Queen” and the anthemic “Go to the Mirror,” all while whirling through a suite of guitars. But Daltrey held his own on “Amazing Journey” and “Pinball Wizard,” his voice a few notes deeper and barely cracking on rare occasion.

Not two years out of throat surgery and 18 shows into a 28-show North American tour, Daltrey howled and growled like little has changed since the slight 20-year-old began his mission with the Who, which eventually anchored the band with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as Great Britain’s Holy Trinity of Rock.

Daltrey’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” the climactic closer of the “Tommy” tale, saw drummer Scott Devours channeling the late Keith Moon, hammering his massive set like the Who’s original madman. Townsend too seemed particularly attune to his brother’s style of vicious strumming, elevating the high-octane power chords that still leave millions of eardrums ringing.

By the end of “Tommy,” Daltrey’s voice was slipping. He sipped warm tea after re-starting two songs while Townsend tore through “Going Mobile,” mimicking his brother’s creaking guitar.
“While I’m on the downslope of my career, I’m at the pinnacle of my decline,” Daltrey said, introducing an Irish-tinged “Freedom Ride.”

Guitarist Frank Simes took charge for “Who Are You,” and stayed on-point through a fiery “Young Man Blues” that just about broke Daltrey’s voice. The golden-throated king manned a harmonica for “Baba O’Riley,” keeping his by-now raspy high notes to a minimum.

By the end of the night, Daltrey was squeaking, complaining of a ragweed allergy. Still, he slung the ukulele under the solo spotlight for an encore “Red, Blue and Grey.” He barely made it through the first stanza before surrendering with a bow.

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Jason Blevins is a strange dancer, but that has never stopped him.

Evan Semón is a Denver freelance writer and photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1321281186 Ted Laserdisc Chalfen

    Well I wouldn’t say the crowd was entirely gray haired, there were more teenagers than senior citizens in my section, but I also wouldn’t say they were on their feet the whole night. Some people didn’t even stand up to applaud at the end of the show. 

    • Facebookland3

      And some very visibly inebriated and obnoxious people never sat down.  Seriously, like wearing lycra, there are some things that the obese and well past prime middle age should do, and “dancing” in public is one!  And the 30-somethings in front of us swilling the $8 beers as if it were soda pop…..but I digress……….. 

      I thought the show started slowly but then did catch on big time.  Was a bit surprised at the amount of face and singing time Simon Townsend got during Tommy, but it does make sense, given many of the parts he was singing were his brother’s on the recording. 

      • guest

        that should read – “Seriously, like wearing lycra, there are some things that the obese and well past prime middle age should NOT do, and “dancing” in public is one! “

  • Bryski1

    As a lifelong Who fan and follower I was not too mis this opportunity to see of of my musical heroes. The sound and pure “rock” atmosphere was similar to that of a show from the 70’s. Having seen the who 6 times over the years it brought excitment and jubilatuion to my soel to see Roger perform at this high level at his age. Many in the audiance were obviosly not familiar with “Tommy” and only stood to attension when the tried and tru Pinball wizard erupted.
    Overall I thought the experiance was way above expectations with his backround band totally Rocking.
    An event not to be forgotten. Thank you Roger for bringing it all back.
    You simply Rockl!

    • http://www.facebook.com/ldwyatt1 Laurie Dehart Wyatt

      I was addressing the last comment to you.. at least the first part of it.. LOL

  • http://www.facebook.com/ldwyatt1 Laurie Dehart Wyatt

    I too have followed The Who for about 34 years! I have seen Roger a total of 5 times! I also think he sounded wonderful. And I agree with you, as I looked around on the floor where I was STANDING I noticed that I was the only person who knew the words to ALL of Tommy! The crowd seemed to be waiting for Pinball Wizard! As for all gray headed people… I think the age range was great! I’m going to be 45 in December, and I had my 3 of my kids with me (ages 27, 22, and 17)… They were all raised on The Who!  My husband would have been there too, but he was diagnosed with cancer on August 1st and passed away on September 17th. He would have been 75 on Halloween this year! I taught him about The Who in the 28 years we were married. I think that Roger looked fantastic and he sang his heart out! I certainly will never forget that concert! In fact, I think Im going to Drive to Vegas on Friday to go see him again!  OHHHHH AND TOO THE HATER (facebookland3) who was talking about obese people dancing and people drinking $8 dollar beers….. I’m kinda a big girl, and yes I stood through the entire concert and maybe even danced, however I did NOT drink $8 beers…. I was drinking a big girl drink! Scotch Shots! After all, I paid $600 for my tickets, and if I stand or dance at the concert, it is my choice.. You shouldn’t be soooo judgemental it just makes you look stupid! Oh, and one more thing, I was the person who screamed out at the concert  that Roger looked sexy…. bummer, one more thing for you to judge me on! Dude I think you are too old to go to Rock Concerts!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ldwyatt1 Laurie Dehart Wyatt

    I too have followed The Who for about 34 years! I have seen Roger a total of 5 times! I also think he sounded wonderful. And I agree with you, as I looked around on the floor where I was STANDING I noticed that I was the only person who knew the words to ALL of Tommy! The crowd seemed to be waiting for Pinball Wizard! As for all gray headed people… I think the age range was great! I’m going to be 45 in December, and I had my 3 of my kids with me (ages 27, 22, and 17)… They were all raised on The Who!  My husband would have been there too, but he was diagnosed with cancer on August 1st and passed away on September 17th. He would have been 75 on Halloween this year! I taught him about The Who in the 28 years we were married. I think that Roger looked fantastic and he sang his heart out! I certainly will never forget that concert! In fact, I think Im going to Drive to Vegas on Friday to go see him again!  OHHHHH AND TOO THE HATER (facebookland3) who was talking about obese people dancing and people drinking $8 dollar beers….. I’m kinda a big girl, and yes I stood through the entire concert and maybe even danced, however I did NOT drink $8 beers…. I was drinking a big girl drink! Scotch Shots! After all, I paid $600 for my tickets, and if I stand or dance at the concert, it is my choice.. You shouldn’t be soooo judgemental it just makes you look stupid! Oh, and one more thing, I was the person who screamed out at the concert  that Roger looked sexy…. bummer, one more thing for you to judge me on! Dude I think you are too old to go to Rock Concerts!!!

    • guest

      Hmm scotch shots!  Not too many people proudly claim to be white trash!  No, it’s not that I’m too old to go to rock concerts anymore, I’ve just become intolerant of those who selfishly say – as you do – that standing is your right and f*** everyone else behind your ample butt!  Dudette, perhaps time to grow up or at least recognize that it’s not always about you!

    • Bryski1

      A similar experiance as you had,,as I looked up and down my row (on the floor 10th row) I was the only one singing the entire Rock Opera word for word. Some grey haired gentleman to my right just kind of glared at me as sang along to Sally Simpson, The highlight was the start to finish exucuation of Tommy with out Roger saying a word.
      Who are You was actually kind of lame, The Johnny Cash anthem was different. See for Miles, Can’t Explain, Young Man Blues, Red Blue and Grey were some of the highlights.
      Still Just awsome in every way.
      Loved every minute of it..Thanks again Roger for a lifretime of music.
      The Who (Pete and Roger solo acts also) have always been and will always be my favorite musical group and band..have every CD ever released.
      Long Live rock!!

  • Ed Grieze

    Standing or sitting, singing or not, let everyone do as they like.

    Seeing Tommy performed live was very welcome.  I thought the initial sound mix was slightly muddled, but once they adjusted the sound was very good in the 1st Bank Center.  Roger’s voice did hold up through Tommy, but was stretched to the point of occasionally missing the mark within the rest of the songs.  The band was very good, as expected.  Guitarist and arranger Frank Simes and drummer Scott Devours were exceptional.  Devours really understood the role of the drummer in much of Townsend’s writing, with guitar serving as the rhythm and the drummer going off over that.  In doing so he was reminiscent of Keith Moon.  Simon does remind of Pete in physique and strumming style.  Roger exhibited plenty of his signature microphone twirling.

    All in all, a very welcome show, despite the late vocal shortcomings.