Roger Daltrey’s solo tour crash-landed at House of Blues last night. For almost an hour and 45 minutes the Who frontman struggled through his set, obviously fighting a cold or laryngitis that ultimately led to the night’s demise.
It was a shame too, because Daltrey looked much younger than his 65 years and was in good spirits. He took shots at himself, explaining that this was his “Use It or Lose It” tour and that his vocal chords need to be kept in shape due to his old age. Unfortunately, his voice was so hoarse and rough that he staggered through the last half of the show, stopping a couple of songs a few notes in and then faltering through replacement tunes.
I'd like to believe that this was just an off-night for Daltrey. A roadie continually brought him mugs of what one could only assume was hot tea. But they failed to jump-start Daltrey’s voice. For the most part, the sold-out audience didn’t notice or just didn’t care. They cheered “Who Are You”'s opening and were generally enthusiastic throughout the night (although sometimes too loud, given Daltrey’s vocal struggles).
The set of Who favorites and obscurities limped along. "Behind Blue Eyes” and “Squeezebox” passed as serviceable, but “Young Man Blues” and “Baba O’Riley” were like nails on a chalkboard. Daltrey even aborted his nightly Johnny Cash medley, apologizing that his voice was just not there.
But at least he was energetic. He jammed on guitar and harmonica with his five-piece band but looked visibly frustrated with the state of his voice. Regrettably, the Cleveland audience was the recipient of the off-night. I, for one, was disappointed that we didn't get the legend at his best. —Aaron Mendelsohn