Roger Daltrey At The Peabody Opera House, 10/8/11: Review, Photos, Setlist

Categories: Show Reviews

roger-daltrey-plays-tommy-in-st-louis.7336189.jpeg
Photo by Jon Gitchoff
Roger Daltrey
Peabody Opera House
October 8, 2011

Better Than: Any band you've heard since John and Keith were here.

It could have been an expensive disappointment, an awkwardly painful reminder that life moves too fast and people get old and it sucks. But in the thick of it, it was hard to think of disappointment as anything but an abstract concept, something hazy and insubstantial. For almost three hours at the Peabody Opera House, the show was galaxies removed from disappointing. As a wise man in the audience put it, the show was -- all of Tommy plus everything else you'd want -- "fucking phenomenal."

Roger Daltrey, the prototypic frontman who wanted to be onstage because he "got in too many fights in the crowd" wished by the end of the night that everybody leave "with a song in their heart." Daltrey wasn't saving his voice for another day, growling through "Welcome" as Uncle Ernie and savoring the round vowel repetition in "Too-mmy" at the end of "Tommy Can You Hear Me." Ax man Simon Townshend (Pete's little brother, who looks and sounds like a younger version of his famous sibling) may have filled in some of the more challenging parts of the evening. But it was Daltrey, in "1921," who transported the crowd; windmilling his mic like a black-clad rock ninja, swinging it so it wrapped around his body only to land in his hand on just the right beat. He continued to do so throughout the evening, and it was just as awesome and cheer-getting the first time as the last.

There were middle-aged men primally free of inhibition, as if the the opening bars of "Pinball Wizard" ping-ponged their very DNA. Smooth-faced people sang along to the words they learned from their parents' repeated listens, or through earbuds and iPods.

Tommy paved the way for glam rock and is widely considered the first, and maybe best example of a rock opera. Composition wise, it bears all the markings of a Who production--machismo guitar, wall to wall riffs, killer slabs of percussion, incandescent harmonies. Storywise, its weirdness is peerless--a young boy goes deaf, dumb and blind, and nothing can cure his psychosomatic schism. Not acid or witch doctors, not molestation by Uncle Ernie, nor being terrorized by Cousin Kevin. Only a smashed mirror and the powers of poxy pinball.

No one can replace the late John Entwistle, or the rapacious style of Keith Moon, or the inimitable and now nearly deaf composer Pete Townshend, but Daltrey has found the only five guys in the world who can do justice to the legacy left by his erstwhile bandmates: guitarist Frank Simes, Loren Gold on synth, Joe Button on bass, Scott Devours behind the kit and a wall of Plexiglas. Simes shredded like the second coming of Stevie Ray Vaughan and volleyed licks back and forth with Townshend. Devours' drum fills on "Amazing Journey" and "My Generation" chandeliered the room. In the second half of the show, the switch to country for a wildly received Johnny Cash medley was flawless.

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Photo by Jon Gitchoff

You got the idea that 67 year old Daltrey has approached his senior citizenship with a sense of mortality firmly in place. It can't be easy when two of your best friends are gone, and the third is simply too damaged to continue. So the man who was once considered just a pretty face with a damn fine head of hair carries on while the others can't.

There may be gravel in his voice, the top of his range may be kaput, and his performance might have been aided by a number of old-man accoutrements -- Q tips, mugs of unknown healing liquids, a drying agent for the monitors in his ears, requisite bottles of water. But his voice was strong, sweet, and still wonderfully powerful.

Pretty face and rock statesmen are now his modes. By "Pictures of Lily," Daltrey's black shirt was all but unbuttoned, showing off a swath of tanned, whittled chest. He introduced "Gimme a Stone" as about "the little man fighting the big man, which seems to be happening all over the world today." He sang "You know, nowadays/It's the old man's got all the money/And the young man/Ain't got nothin' in the world these days" in "Young Man Blues."

Even at the very end Daltrey was reluctant to leave the stage, standing alone with a ukelele ("I don't give a shit if I look stupid") for "Red Blue and Grey." "This brings back John to me," he said. "Tomorrow is a special day, it would have been his birthday. It's like they're back here. The racket that they made in their lifetimes is still echoing around in the universe, and let's hope it does for a long time to come."

roger-daltrey-plays-tommy-in-st-louis.7336182.jpeg
Photo by Jon Gitchoff

Opener: Armed with only an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, Paul Freeman's dynamo performance was the perfect warm up for the main event. "My job is to get you all hot for Roger Daltrey. So are you hot?" he queried, before asking for a volunteer to come sing with him. A fearless broad named Suzanne was pulled out of the pit and onstage, and he taught her a line and she sang it beautifully, undeterred by the huge crowd.

Musically different from the headliner, Freeman played a straightforward set that was folky and impassioned in the best way possible. Backed by a rather lame, static projection of his logo and social media links, Freeman proved himself a consummate performer, from his natural stage banter to superior songwriting chops. "This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever done in my life. I wrote a song 30 minutes ago, it doesn't have a title, but I figure well, what the fuck. Bear with me and we'll give it a go." He uncrumpled his lyric sheet and placed it on the ground. A roadie ran out with gaffer tape to tape it down for him before the Peabody's air conditioning could snatch it away. The song that followed, the song he'd penned a mere half hour before getting on stage in front of 3,000 people, was easily the best song of his awesome set. Hilariously, he did a cover of the Traveling Wilburys "Handle With Care" and forgot the words.

Notes and setlist on the next page.


Location Info

Map

Peabody Opera House

14th St. and Market St., St. Louis, MO

Category: Music


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16 comments
tammy
tammy

i had vip tickets.i should have been able to print a free photo taken of roger and me but could never get it to print why

Alisonfleming
Alisonfleming

I'll echo that Diana! Awesome review...i think is the best review of anything i've ever read!...I went to see the show at The Midland by AMC in Kansas City (beautiful venue, personable size, great sound!) on Friday 14th; and it was EVERY BIT :-) :-)  as magical as you describe of the Peabody experience.

Tom in Memphis
Tom in Memphis

By the way, Diana, thanks for an intelligent review.  I read one review that complained about the parking for over half the column.  (All true, unfortunately.)  Thankfully, my hotel was only a few blocks away.

Tom in Memphis
Tom in Memphis

I sat in the mezzanine level but obviously not as high as you did.  I thought the venue was one of the great things about the show.  The acoustics were phenomenal.  I came in with high expectations and left overwhelmed by the experience.  It was a "magic" performance.  Best concert I've ever attended and I've seen my share.  By the time Roger finished his first set, all I could think of was how grateful I was to be able to be there.

Luile3
Luile3

Thank You Roger fot carrying on the WHO flag !  Yesterday, Brain Ray, Paul McCartney s' guitar player, ended a show in Panamá, playing Baba O Riley, Behind Blue Eyes and Magic Bus. Pearl Jam, Rush and Styx s' James Young, have covered WHO songs and declare themselves all time fans. Who music is still being played after decades. Their music will live for years and years !

Egolterman
Egolterman

Hi. I missed it. I worked 12 years saving, promoting, saving, promoting, saving, promoting Kiel Opera House and McCarthy said 'I'll take care of you'. And, he did not. Am I bitter? No.I am happy for St. Louis to have had this experience and I am  happy the place is open.How could I be bitter. This is a brilliant piece,written  from the heart-with no bias.  It will warm me through the wintertime. If I had any money I would take the review to lunch.

MG & KG
MG & KG

My daughter (17) and I (50) got tickets for the Dallas (Grand Prairie TX) show tomorrow Oct 12. We are looking forward for a wonderful evening. Tommy is my daughter's favorite The Who's album.

JayVHall
JayVHall

The Daltrey Tour has been amazing. So glad he was able to come to Saint Louis! Continue the experience by witnessing an amazing stage production at Stray Dog Theatre through October 22, 2011. Audiences and critics agree... this is a show NOT TO BE MISSED! www.StrayDogTheatre.orgDo yourself a favor and enjoy this treat of a show!

SaltySeaDog
SaltySeaDog

The Peabody Opera House should refund half the price of the ticket for every soul who watched the show from the mezzanine level.  Either the Tommy stage hands or the Peobody stage crew erected a lighting and sound boom across the entire stage that blocked nearly the entire screen with the video backdrop.  Totally distracted from the show.

Thankfully, Roger and his band were phenomenal and so it was worthwhile.  However, that doesn't excuse Peabody for a piss poor venue experience.  Somebody from the house should have been up there and noticed this obvious gaffe.

On the concert note, I am probably as rabid a Who/Daltrey fan as can be found in St Louis, but was not as enamored of the Johnny Cash seque as the reviewer was.  Daltrey has plenty of his own material...but the flow of Tommy to Who to Cash back to Who...unnecessary.  Definitely would have been fulfilled without it and the marginality of the Cash medley itself made it forgettable.

Jamieson j.
Jamieson j.

This is a phenomenally emotive piece of writing. Thanks so much for giving words to an unbelievable night. Here is the challenge for the rest of the RFT staff....the best review to have graced these pages in a long time.

Ohio fan
Ohio fan

SSD, you obviously missed the point of the Cash medley - doctor's orders.  As for the blocked view of the video, you didn't miss much unless you get off on birds and shapes and other stuff flying through the air.

What you should have enjoyed was the $700,000 JBL sound system - the industry's best right now.  You sound like a guy who orders a steak, eats half of it, then tries to send it back and wants drinks for the table.

Matt Harnish
Matt Harnish

The best part of that is that she was equally informed & at home when writing about King Kong Magnetics last week.  That's good range!

SaltySeaDog
SaltySeaDog

Naw Ohio fan, I don't like paying for a show and having a turd dangled in front of my face.  Maybe if you'd been up in the mezzanine you'd shut your pie hole.

 As for the Johnny Cash, it was self-indulgent crap.  Only the retarded non-Who fans who didn't recognize Tommy thought it was cool...and I'll agree, there were many.  If the doctor ordered him to sing low then he wouldn't have screamed himselft through Baba O' immediately following, but again, he needed some kind of excuse to take us far from Tommy and into the delta, or at least try.

The sound system was great. 

purpleheart
purpleheart

Maybe if you shelled out some dough back last May, you'd prove you were a hard core fan! Then, you would probably of had a better experience, then again, some would still bitch about a good blow job.

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