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Concert Review: Roger Daltrey At The Showbox Sodo, Seattle, WA, 10/12/09

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I wish I could say I had the setlist handy for the Seattle stop on Roger Daltrey's current Use It Or Lose It solo tour, but I don't. Which is unfortunate, because this was truly a case of a really great show sandwiched within the middle of an otherwise merely very good one.

The Who's Roger Daltrey is currently on his first concert tour as a solo act since the mid-eighties. He has no present solo album to support, but is rather playing these dates reportedly to get the vocal pipes into working shape for an upcoming Who album and tour in 2010.

That being said, Daltrey's Seattle stop at the uncharacteristically club-like setting of the thousand seat Showbox Sodo — his second date on this tour, and his first in the U.S. proper (the tour kicked off the previous night in Vancouver B.C.) — was truly a tale of two completely different performers.

For the faithful 1000 or so concert-goers who turned out to see a rare performance from sixties/seventies rock-royalty performing within such intimate confines (Daltrey himself remarked at one point how he wasn't used to playing something less than an arena), there were really only two questions:

How much vintage Who material would Daltrey do, and was his voice in anything resembling working shape?

The former question was answered fairly quickly as Daltrey — backed by a capable band which included Pete Townshend's younger brother, Simon — opened with a semi-acoustic version of "Who Are You?," which soon gave way to a slightly less familiar, but nonetheless welcome rendering of the more obscure Who single, "Pictures Of Lily."

For the Who fans in attendance, seeing an icon like Daltrey performing such arena-rock standards in this setting had to represent something close to nirvana. Daltrey, for his part, also sounded great here.

Unfortunately, the latter part of this question was likewise answered midway through the set when Daltrey led the band through one of the Who's earliest singles, "I Can See For Miles." Daltrey's voice was strong here, but the song was also played in a much lower key than the more familiar original version, and by this time, it was all but obvious there would be none of Daltrey's signature screams forthcoming on this night.

A side trip into Daltrey's solo material from the seventies and eighties served mainly as a excuse for a much needed trip to the bathroom, or for a trip to the bar, or outside for a smoke.

From there, Daltrey's stories of how songwriter Leo Sayer provided many of the songs for solo releases like Ride A Rock Horse were certainly informative enough — but for those of us who were actually around back then, we remember Sayer mainly as the guy who wore clown makeup on one album cover, and had a few Bee Gees-era disco hits like "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing."

In other words, stuff we're better off not being reminded of.

But then, something great happened.

Daltrey's band began the chords to the Pearl Jam hit "Better Man," and sure enough, there was PJ's Eddie Vedder out there on stage with Roger. The two of them sounded excellent together, continuing on through a great version of "The Real Me" from Quadrophenia.

From this point on, Daltrey seemed to get a bit more of a fire under his belly as he powered the band through inspired versions of "Baba O'Riley," and especially a very sweet sounding coda of the Live At Leeds staples "Young Man Blues" and "Shakin' All Over."

Now, this was what we came for.

Daltrey then brought Vedder back out onstage and said, "if I can't hit the high notes here, I've brought someone who maybe can." On a killer version of "Bargain," Vedder did exactly that, and then some.

By this point, Roger Daltrey's Seattle concert was transformed from a rather routine appearance of rock royalty going through the motions in a small venue, into something truly special. I can't imagine anyone leaving the Showbox Sodo at that point feeling like they had seen anything less than true greatness .

Obviously, Daltrey won't be bringing Eddie Vedder along for this entire tour. It's also fairly obvious that on this very early end of the tour, the kinks in the set are still being worked out. But for all of you Who fans out there, I wouldn't miss this. Daltrey may not be able to quite hit the screams that he used to, but his voice is still surprisingly strong.

What I can say for sure, judging by this show, is that Roger Daltrey is nowhere near ready to be put out to pasture just yet. On this night, with a little help from Eddie Vedder, he turned a potentially good show into a great one.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at The Rockologist, and at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    don’t know that i agree about the entire body of the Daltry solo stuff. McVicar is pretty good (always liked the ballad “Without Your Love”) and so is Under A Raging Moon.

    saw Daltry on the “plays the music of Pete Townshend” tour. fantastic, with that giant horn section, Simon and Zack Starky.

  • Cackalack Phantom

    I don’t understand the whole “this was what we came for” comment. I think I speak for legions of fans when I say the garden variety hit list isn’t what makes the hardcore fan, the one who’s seen The Who countless times, want to go see this show. It’s the hope Roger might have the brass to perform songs that are genuinely Roger Daltrey as to avoid putting on a Who minus Pete show. Parade, Let Me Down Easy, Don’t Let Go the Coat, Why Did I Fall For That, You Better You Bet, and Parting Should Be Painless would be better served than the worn out, played-in-the-ground Who Are You and are inherently better songs than Pictures of Lily, Boris the Spider, and I’m a Boy. I just don’t get it.

  • neemers

    I’ve been a WHO fan for most of my life and I’m not a kid. Going to the bathroom or bar during solo material to me is out of the question. I was actually looking forward to hearing solo stuff, and the more obscure Who stuff. I’ve heard the greatest hits so many times. And you better you bet should be dropped completely. The album flopped when it was released and that’s the worst song on there. The others are actually good.I’m looking forward also to to the small venues, that will be awesome.

  • Wholoon

    No WHO fan would go to the bar or can when Daltrey did his solo stuff. A pompous critic with free tickets maybe, but not a fan.

  • Dr. Jimmy

    I concur with the others. This tour is for the hardcore fans wishing to hear more than just “See Me Feel Me” again.

    Bring on the solo material.

  • Karpman

    Dang what a great time! Blue, Red and Grey!! Vedder as unannounced guest! The thunder of The Real Me! A really awesome trip back in time for me, and a reliving of a magical night for me almost 27 years ago. Long Live Rock!

  • doug m

    Have to agree, it’s seems odd to go see Roger solo and then leave when he plays his stuff. Why did you even bother to go? And since when did “pictures” become an obscure song? Sounds like this reviewer only listens to best-of albums

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Oh for petes sake, you guys. If my preference for the songs of Pete Townshend over those of Leo Sayer, or my need for a bathroom break, makes me less of a fan, than fine, color me the pompous jackass you want to.

    But if you were being honest, you’d just admit it too. There was a pretty big line at the can during those songs.

    -Glen

  • Greg Barbrick

    Awesome show Glen. I agree, crappy solo stuff off Ride A Rock Horse is what smoke breaks were made for. Vedder totally rocked the house, and the Leo Sayer stories were all a fan could ask for.

  • trrish

    My vote would be for obscure Townshend songs :-)

  • anne

    Wow, my 6th time seeing Roger, 1st time for solo, and I was still blown away. Come on guys, if you really knew Roger’s solo music you would know that the songs were from Daltrey and Rocks in Your Head. Who has to pee in an hour and fifty minute show? I wouldn’t have missed on second of a once in a life time opportunity. Eddie Vedder is the only other lead singer who can sing The Who and have the passion to make it work. I almost passed out when I saw the Roger pull out a second microphone and started hearing Better Man. I was only 6 rows back and I still can’t believe I was able to see such two greats of all time in such a venue. LONG LIVE ROCK and Roger. If anyone out there can pull off such a feat at 65, then you can whine. Thank you Roger for having the balls. Loved the song choices.

  • Ron B

    Yes: A wonderful show! The rockers were so strong it didn’t hurt to have some lighter fare between, so everyone could cool down.

    Anyone at all interested who lives in the path of the rest of this tour needs a ticket.

    If the same drummer keeps it up the whole tour, there will be no need for Eddie to be there to make it special.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Exactly Ron. A little breather in between so many good songs at a great show like this one can in fact be a good thing. Especially when the venue sells beer…lol.

    I also agree that the drummer was quite good, as were the rest of the band. The whole thing was a treat from start to stop, and getting Vedder was just an added bonus.

    But yeah, given the option of hitting the can during “Young Mans Blues” or say, “Giving It All Away,” the latter is going to get my vote there.

    With apologies to all you solo Daltrey fans out there…sometimes the law of averages just catches up to you that way.

    -Glen

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    …and judging by the lines in the can during the solo stuff, a lot of other fans made the same decision.

    -Glen

  • Ron B

    Probably due more to the Law of Beverages.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Well yeah, that too. LOL…

    -Glen

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    PS – Don’t tell anyone, but Marys Place is usually my piss song of choice during Springsteen shows. But you didn’t hear it from me….

    -Glen

  • chris

    a good concert. Typical reviewers review though, getting carried away with the peronality rather than the content.

    Most songs good, trouble hitting the notes on others, trouble remembering the lyrics on others.
    Retire on a high Roger!!!!

  • Cackalack Phantom

    It’s a solo show for crying out loud. Would folks be pissed if Mick Jagger performed a solo show and played only cuts from Primitive Cool, She’s the Boss, and Wandering Spirit? Then why in the world would folks wanna go to a Daltrey show and only wanna hear Pete’s stuff? BTW, Glen, if the only thing you can think of when it comes to Roger’s solo stuff is Leo Sayer then you expand your album collection.

  • bob pridden

    can’t you damn people (critics) spell “BABA O’RILEY” correctly?? damn!

  • Ron B

    During the concert Roger told a story about meeting Leo and why he recorded a few of his songs.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    #19: I wouldn’t be pissed, but I’d probably spend more time in the can (just kidding). Did it ever occur to anybody still talking about me taking a break during some of the solo portions of this show, that my review of this was a positive one? I mean, you’d think I trashed the show or something when the reality doesn’t even come close to that. As of right now, I’m through defending the fact that I had to take a piss during “Giving it All Away.”

    -Glen

  • Ron B

    Besides, you were being exhorted to give it all away.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    #20: Baba O’Riley error has been corrected. Thank you for pointing it out.

    -Glen

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    At least I wasn’t riding the Magic Bus though, Ron…LOL…

  • Detroit to Seattle

    Roger only told one story about Leo Sayer prior to playing “Giving it All Away”, (a song Daltrey recorded in 1972 at a time when Leo Sayer was not yet known). Also, why is the reviewer talking about piss so much? I’ve seen The Who two times, 1982 at The Pontiac Silverdome, and in 2000 at The Palace of Auburn Hills both in Michigan. The Who looked like tiny ants at those shows, seeing Roger up close here was really magical. Eddie Vedder did spice up the show, and The Real Me was the best.

  • JB

    I was actually disappointed to find out that Roger was going to do mostly Who songs. I would have been thrilled to hear nothing but stuff from solo albums like Under a Raging Moon, Avenging Annie, Free Me. To say that it was an excuse to use the bathroom is a pretty odd thing to say seeing how it was a solo tour. I also love it when he sings the Celtic songs and favorites from other artist like when the Who covered Elton Johns Sat Nights alright for Fighting. I have heard 50 million versions of Who are you but have never heard such great songs as “My time is gonna come” live(Mcvicar). Oh well maybe on his 70 and still got it tour!! ha ha

  • Nancy C.

    Hey, all of you Who fans…did anyone notice that the 20th comment was made by none another then The Who’s sound/technical engineer for the past 40 years BOB PRIDDEN!

  • TMAK

    cool article. and if you wanna read how the show is 2 years later check out a fan’s review of Roger Daltrey does Tommy.