Who frontman Roger Daltrey says his current tour performing the group’s 1969 rock opera “Tommy” in its entirety “really came by accident.”
Daltrey curates an annual week of shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust charity. But in March he was unable to find an act for one of the nights. “I tried the whole of the music business,” he recalls, “and everybody was working or in the studio or away on holiday.
“So out of desperation I just stepped up to the plate, and the rest just seemed to happen. That’s all I can say. I had no intention at the beginning of the year of ever doing ‘Tommy,’ and here I am now, enjoying every minute of it.”
Daltrey, 67, has, of course, performed “Tommy” in its near-entirety before (the instrumental “Underture” is left out of his shows) with the Who. The singer’s recitation of the piece comes with guitarist and chief composer Pete Townshend’s full blessing, and Daltrey — whose own group is able to re-create nuances that are often missing from live renditions — says he considers “Tommy” to in fact be a product of the band as a whole.
“Every bit of music on there was written by a group of people,” he explains. “Pete might have written the top lines of most of the songs, but all of the little bits and intricacies that were all a part of the group’s character belonged to the individuals in that group.
“But I treated it like a classical piece, as if it had one composer and treated it with that kind of respect. So it’s a very different animal than when the Who took it on the road. We can add all the vocals and all the harmonies and ... the little details in the music that somehow used to get lost in the early way that the Who used to have to play it.”
Townshend has prepared a new “director’s cut” set of the Who’s other rock opera, 1973’s “Quadrophenia,” that will be released in November. As for the Who’s future, Daltrey says he’s waiting to hear about any new material from Townshend, though he does anticipate performing live under the band moniker again.
“We certainly haven’t gone away,” Daltrey says. “But Pete has got — and this is not a joke — serious problems with his ears. He’s now gotten down to wearing two hearing aids, so there are technical problems we have to get around in order to be able to play live again.”
Roger Daltrey performs “Tommy” at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, in the Colosseum at Caesar’s Windsor, 377 Riverside Drive. Tickets are $70-$131 Call 1-800-522-4700 or visit www.caesarswindsor.com.
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