Roger Daltrey Presents The Who’s “Tommy” With The New York Pops, At Forest Hill Stadium, Sunday, June 17th, 2018, Reviewed
If you are, courtesy of rock nyc partner SohoJohnny Presents, in the third row at Forest Hill Stadium last night, and you are still wondering what the problem with Tommy is, perhaps it is Tommy and not you. The Who Band plus New York Pops orchestrated performance of the Whos’s seminal rock opera was an overblown exercise in flogging a dead horse, all the sadder because Roger Daltrey is in great voice: he has been on the rise again since his 2014 masterpiece with Wilko Johnson, Going Back Home, an album he certainly should have toured behind. A couple of weeks ago Roger released his eight solo album, but first since 1992, and it is an exercise in classic rock with a feel no current rock band is capable of emulating. If he was performing songs from those two albums, with Wilko AND Simon Townshend on guitar behind him, you could count me. Roger is 74 years old (he looks ten years younger) and while I m sure the entire nearly sold out stadium appreciated his powerful singing, as strong as you could have hoped for, they didn’t really enjoy the age abused Daltrey trying to twirl the chord and hitting himself with his microphone.
With the New York Pops orchestra neither adding nor subtracting a damn thing, Townshend’s 1971 ode to Meher Baba as extended metaphor has withstood a lot of things. The Original double, an orchestrated live in concert version, Ken Russel’s hamfisted baked beans extravaganza motion picture, a Broadway musical, ,tours and more tours, and live Who stalwart “Pinball Wizard,” memorably covered by Elton John, and Tina Turner’s strung out and worse “The Acid Queen” -both songs are part of the 70s pop firmament. But it has nothing left to reveal. The only possible reason for Daltrey, who could have a huge late career resurgence and with ease, to bring this tired wretch of a show to Forest Hills, is money.
The Who Band are pretty good, we knew Simon on lead guitar wouldn’t embarrass big brother, bassist Jon Button (who was born the year Tommy was released) is a first rate session player, drummer Scott Devours is a youthful 51 and can swing hard behind the tough job of holding down the beat for the orchestra, keyboardist Loren Gold has been with Daltrey for six years now, and second guitarist Frank Simes is both the Who and Daltrey’s musical director. I would have preferred it if they’d done away with the New York Pops entirely, nd just covered the sucker.
Look, we won’t have the likes of Daltrey or Pete Townshend around forever, and we are happy to pay our respects, but if money is not a problem, Daltrey should close ranks, call Wilko, and play theatres. Till then at least it gave me the opportunity to catch up with my good friend and business partner SohoJohnny. Take a look on rock nyc and request an invite to his disco and r&b Garden Party on August 4th!