HE WAS a deaf, dumb and blind kid who played a mean pinball and thought he was the messiah, but last night The Who’s most famous creation rose from the dead and entertained his loyal disciples at Dublin’s Marlay Park.
Tommy , The Who’s classic rock opera, has been made into a movie and a stage musical, but last night it was performed the way its composer, Pete Townsend, intended – as a full-blast, no-frills rock ‘n’ roll show.
Roger Daltrey resurrected Tommy for a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in March and it went down so well, he has taken it out on the road across the UK, and will bring it to the US in September.
With two original members of The Who dead, and guitarist Pete Townsend taking a break from live action, it’s up to the band’s singer, Daltrey, to resurrect the band’s iconic character – which he played in the movie version directed by Ken Russell – with Townsend’s younger brother, Simon, on guitar.
Also joining Daltrey in this recreation of a glorious past were guitarist Frank Simes, bassist Jon Button, drummer Scott Deavours and keyboard player Loren Gold.
Daltrey warmed up with a trio of Who classics, I Can See for Miles, Pictures Of Lily and Tattoo , apologising for the ropey sound (he caught a cold at a recent gig in Norwich), but after delivering a couple of trad-influenced songs, and reminiscing about drinking sessions with The Chieftains, he got down to the business at hand – bringing Tommy back to life.
“I realised what a completely innovative work it was for its time,” Daltrey told the crowd. “Have a little respect, cos it’s a bleedin’ opera!”
The psychedelic backdrop kicked into action as the band played the album’s overture, and the audience cheered at the album’s recognisable riffs and themes.
For the next couple of hours, the faithful were treated to some of the album’s classic tunes, including It’s A Boy, Cousin Kevin, I’m Free, We’re Not Gonna Take It and Pinball Wizard , Daltrey’s voice sounding stronger by the minute as he warmed to his task. Tommy may not sound as fresh as it did in 1969, but there’s still a little life in the old prog yet.