Roger Daltrey didn't write a note of "Tommy," but he found himself as a singer telling the story of the deaf, dumb and blind boy who becomes a messiah at high-profile Woodstock and the Isle of Wight. More than 40 years later, Daltrey is still finding ways to express himself through the character.
The Who singer brought a five-piece band, including guitarist Simon Townshend, brother of Who mastermind Pete Townshend, to the Midland on Friday for a trip through "Tommy" and other favorites.
The band stuck pretty close to the recorded version of "Tommy," give or take a few guitar solos and a nice gospel piano intro to "Come to This House." "Pinball Wizard" finally got the crowd on the floor to their feet, where they stayed for the rest of the night. After "Tommy" ended, Daltrey paused for a few minutes to introduce the band before plowing into more material.
For the second half, Daltrey wanted to sing some harmonies, so he enlisted the rest of the band to help out on "Can See For Miles," "The Kids Are Alright" and a side trip through Americana with "Gimme A Stone" and a Johnny Cash medley.
Although Daltrey's voice isn't as strong today, in many ways he's a better vocalist. Improved phrasing and delicate attention to nuance make Daltrey more expressive than ever.
This isn't to say he doesn't sing with authority. "Eyesight to the Blind" featured a tough blues growl, while "Smash the Mirror" and "Young Man Blues" were as forceful as the original Who recordings.
In an evening filled with highlights, the best moment was a potent reading of "Young Man Blues," which featured Daltrey's signature microphone twirling and incorporated the Who rarity "Water." The immortal "Baba O'Riley" concluded a generous set that ran well over two hours.