Wednesday, October 12, 2011


We went to see Tommy last night at Cedar Park Center (CPC). Roger Daltrey and Simon Townshend, who turns out to be Pete’s brother—I was thinking son—put on a helluva show.

As always we were a little stressed about getting there as I get off work so late. Suna wanted to go straight to the bank and then to the show. I wanted to grab a quick bite so we didn’t have to pay ridiculous amounts of money for microwaved barfburgers. We stopped at subway and still made it to the show a half-hour early. Having the performance only a few miles from the house is a real convenience! And CPC is very well-designed for access and egress. Traffic was almost pleasant. (See if I ever say that again!)

We had really good seats, but I sure hope Suna’s photos come out better than mine. Too bad we couldn’t bring a real camera and had to settle for the phones. Here’s the least bad shot of the opening act.

The opening act was an animated Welshman named Paul Freeman. He brought a rock and roll sensibility to the acoustic guitar you see in the picture.

We really enjoyed his set. Daltrey’s sound system was set perfectly for vocals accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Freeman played several originals, the a cover of Anything You Want. He wrapped up with a couple more originals and even brought a pre-teen from the audience on stage to sing with him.

While the kid was walking up, Freeman admitted, “I wish I’d known there were children in the audience a half-hour ago.’ This was in regret for dropping the F-bomb a couple of times. The kid blustered through singing his part, and Freeman made him sound good.

Then it was time for the main act.

Daltrey, Townshend, and crew take the stage.

The band was tight, moving seamlessly from one song to the next. The road crew kept the guitarists in fresh guitars, sometimes bringing Townshend more than one during a song. The show was the definition of professionalism in almost all aspects.

Tommy comprised a little less than half of the show. I am so glad I finally got to see it live. Daltrey was in excellent voice, considering he said he has undergone throat surgery and therapy “over the last two years.” In anything, Simon Townshend has a stronger voice than his brother, and he covered Pete’s parts with ease. I was also very impressed with how well Daltrey sang Entwistle’s and Moon’s songs, which are in very different ranges and timbres than his usual. Both Townshend and the guitarist (whom Daltrey introduced as his music director) used devices similar to The Vocalist, so it often sounded as if there were 12 or more voices on stage coming from the four with mikes. (The drummer had a mike, but he banged it more often than he pretended to sing into it.)

Nobody slings a mike like Daltrey! Photo source: SongKick

The sound system was perfect for the vocals, but it also provided my only complaint about the evening. It was perfect if all you wanted to hear was the vocals and the music director’s guitar. The keys were almost always buried in the mix, as you would expect for a power guitar band. Townshend’s guitar was also lost in the mix except for a few occasions where he had the dominant part. But as soon as the music director started playing, Townshend was almost inaudible.

The bass player played a Fender (Precision, I think) with an octave doubler. The lower octave was mixed a little hot, which really muddied the sound. When the drums joined in, the low frequencies had all the punch of day-old oatmeal. In short, the equipment was state-of-the-art; the mix was not. The one bright spot to a fellow bass player was when he switched to upright bass. When he did that, the nervousness drained from his body and he just played. Not only that, the sound was clear and perfect—even with the rest of the band playing.

One unique idea Daltrey brings to this tour is to post mp3s of every performance. I would suggest you check out his “Johnny Cash Medley” or the whole thing, but you’d have to buy the download to hear more than 30 seconds of any song or more than part of the intro to the Cash medley.

There were a couple of times the band stopped playing, so you could say there was an encore even though the band never really left the stage. But really, Daltrey just kept going until he could’t sing anymore. I hope he sees it as a kindness that we all left when he said goodnight instead of demanding more.

If you get a chance to see one of the other tour stops, do so.

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