Tom Harrison, The Province
Halfway through a sprightly original, one of his few, Roger Daltrey forgot the words. He yelled "Alzheimer's," stopped the song, apologized that he and his band had only performed this song once before, and did it again.
It was an extremely human moment, and raised the question of him getting away with that in his more famous band, The Who. Could he? Probably not. Daltrey was also chatty, which he isn't in The Who, so this solo show must have been very liberating.
He started his Use It Or Lose It tour at the Commodore Saturday night. Hence the mistakes, the nervous chit-chat and occasional miscue. But Daltrey, despite brooding about his voice, was in good shape and obviously enjoying himself. Although he sang a few big songs designed for big places ("Baba O'Reilly"), he also resurrected small songs ("Tattoo") and made them big. He opened with the big "Who Are You," but followed with the small, "Pictures Of Lily," and thus made good on his promise to do Who songs that "for many, many, many reasons," The Who rarely, if ever, did.
Daltrey also went far afield, telling of a collaboration with the Chieftains, paying tribute to Johnny Cash and injecting a few songs from his solo career. On its way to becoming a megastar band, The Who grew immobilized by the high concept that became songwriter Pete Townshend's principle. The high concept can be a trap, but by scaling back, Roger Daltrey has made The Who accessible again. In so doing, Daltrey seems refreshed and a balance has been restored.
The Who attempted to go down paths it never fully explored, but Daltrey does. His "Blue And Grey" gently casts light on an overlooked song that brings a renewed appreciation of Townshend - and by choosing to do it, Daltrey is making his own commentary.
This works two ways. While The Who has given Roger Daltrey a career and an identity, his interpretation of The Who allows him to assert his individuality. Saturday night was a very personal insight to Roger Daltrey, his career and how he views The Who.