Daltrey gives the Who their due
That Roger Daltrey is calling his current solo outing the “Use It Or Lose It’’ tour - in reference to his voice - naturally invites concern over whether he’s lost it.
Sunday night at the House of Blues, the Who frontman proved that he hasn’t. At least not completely.
After years of bellowing to be heard over his estimable bandmates, Daltrey’s voice has understandably lost some of the high bits. (He also said he was fighting a cold.) But over the course of nearly two hours, when singing in a comfortable range, Daltrey, 65, sounded pretty darn robust as he worked through a grab bag of Who classics, obscurities, solo tracks, and covers, exuding a palpable joy for his set list.
While Daltrey left some of the Who selections untouched - the breezy pop of “The Kids Are Alright,’’ the synthy shivers of “Baba O’Riley,’’ the wink-and-nudge romp “Squeeze Box’’ - others received slight renovations including “My Generation,’’ which was powered down to a strutting blues.
Of the less well-known songs, the sublime ukulele charmer “Blue, Red, and Grey’’ was a great showcase for Daltrey’s tender side. (Alas, there were no “Lisztomania’’ tracks for Daltrey completists.)
Helping bolster the still-fit singer was a terrific five-piece band - including Simon Townshend, brother of Pete, on guitar - all of whom helped create a lush bed of harmonies on songs like “Who Are You,’’ “I Can See for Miles’’ (a spacy treat), and “Pictures of Lily.’’ The band credibly stirred up some rootsy Irish energy on a pair of Celtic-tinged pop-rockers, got bluesy on Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man,’’ and went country with a Johnny Cash medley. Townshend also stepped up to the microphone and belted out a rollicking “Going Mobile.’’
For someone interested in conserving his voice, Daltrey sure did talk an awful lot. While he was generally endearing and often funny with his banter - prefacing the Cash medley with stories of his youth working in a sheet-metal factory, for instance - his reminiscing sometimes meandered, and less talking and more rocking would have been welcome.
Daltrey closed out the night with the languid ballad “Without Your Love,’’ a gracious expression of gratitude to the audience.