Roger Daltrey says live music is 'the only thing that hasn’t been stolen by the internet' (2024)

Roger Daltrey has some thoughts.

He doesn’t want to disclose much about his impending electric/acoustic summer solo tour because he doesn't want to ruin any potential surprises. "Remember the days when you would go to a show and be wowed because you didn’t know what was next? There’s something to be said about mystique,” he says.

While he reaffirms his comment to USA TODAY from 2023 that he doubts The Who would ever play the U.S. again, he also wishes, in a way, that “we could go backward. I’d love to show people where we started, with a lot of energy.” So, is that a possibility? “No,” he says with a laugh. “We’re too old. I’d have a go at it, but Pete (Townshend) would have quite a shock. In those days, what we lacked in technique, we made up for in volume, and we can’t do that anymore.”

How about the current version of The Who’s masterful rock opera “Tommy” now playing on Broadway. Has he seen it? “No.” Does he plan to? “No.” But Daltrey will never shirk from elaborating a position. “I’m just not interested. I prefer the original, the original, the original. The Who created the best rock opera ever written and it should remain there as far as I’m concerned.”

When he mentions that longtime guitarist in his solo band, Simon Townshend – younger brother of Who legend Pete – is “my soul partner on the road. He’s my replacement for Pete,” one wonders how Pete feels about this.

Need a break? Play the USA TODAY Daily Crossword Puzzle.

“I don’t know. And I don’t care.”

Roger Daltrey says live music is 'the only thing that hasn’t been stolen by the internet' (1)

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Daltrey’s bracing honesty is both amusing and laudable. His comments could be construed as the crankiness of an 80-year-old, but his demeanor is that of a bloke in a pub having a pint and laughing as easily at himself as the world around him.

And really, his bluntness should be celebrated, because even if you disagree with his positions, he makes valid points.

As one of the most captivating frontmen in rock ‘n’ roll history, Daltrey has pushed his gritty roar of a voice behind timeless anthems – “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Who Are You” – and searing ballads such as “Behind Blue Eyes” and the whisper-to-a-bellow “Love, Reign O’er Me.”

His 11-date summer tour kicks off June 10 in Glenside, Pennsylvania, before making stops in northern Virginia, upstate New York, Boston and Detroit among other cities. He’ll be joined by the aforementioned Simon Townshend on guitar, Scott Devours on drums, Geraint Watkins on keyboards and accordion, John Hogg on bass, Doug Boyle on guitar, Jody Linscott on percussion, Katie Jacoby on violin, Steve Weston on harmonica and Billy Nicholls on mandolin.

Roger Daltrey says live music is 'the only thing that hasn’t been stolen by the internet' (2)

It’s a large ensemble for a tour billed as semi-acoustic, but Daltrey quickly clarifies that attendees shouldn’t expect a quiet evening of unplugged classics.

“It’s just varied instrumentation. The one thing about the show, though, is no synthesizers, which I’m happy about,” he says. “I like the rawness of real instruments and in some ways (synths) can wind up doing too much.”

So “Baba O’Riley” will be minus its synth loop and “Won’t Get Fooled” also scrubbed to basics, which Daltrey is anticipating.

“It opens people’s minds to maybe hearing the song for the first time,” he says.

The show will also include songs pulled from his 10 solo albums, possibly some covers and a Q&A segment with the audience. Despite the uncertainty that comes with giving the mic to fans, Daltrey is undaunted about the questions he might field.

“I didn’t say I’m going to answer all of them,” he says with a chuckle. “A lot are so stupid you wouldn’t want to hear the answers, anyway. But it can be a lot of fun, or it can be disastrous if the questions aren’t any good.”

Roger Daltrey says live music is 'the only thing that hasn’t been stolen by the internet' (3)

The openers on his June run of dates are a rotation of KT Tunstall, Dan Bern, Leslie Mendelson and Inhaler. Tunstall, of “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” fame, will join the bill on most shows and Daltrey says he chose her because “she’s a fabulous artist, really gutsy. That’s what it’s all about.”

Daltrey first met Tunstall in 2014, when she performed at his dearly held annual Teenage Cancer Trust concert. Since 2000, Daltrey has curated the all-star event at the Royal Albert Hall in London, raising more than $40 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust organization, which funds specialized nurses and hospital units in the U.K.’s National Health Service along with additional support for young people with cancer.

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After this year’s installment in January – which featured a walloping lineup including longtime pal Robert Plant, Eddie Vedder and Pete Townshend – Daltrey announced he would step down as curator.

“I don’t feel at this age I can be responsible for the charity,” he says, noting that he will remain in an honorary position and if a concert curator isn’t available for the 2025 edition, he’ll happily assume his position one more time. But, he says, “I just feel I’ve got to hand it over to younger blood to carry it forward … but I’ll always be there for it.”

Daltrey’s involvement in the charity always pokes at his softer side. But he wouldn’t be Daltrey without offering one more worldly perspective.

“This whole tour,” he says, “I just want to make sure we give the audience a great time. It’s a tough old world at the moment and thank God live music is there and that it’s the only thing that hasn’t been stolen by the internet. I think all of the YouTube stuff is very unhelpful. I don’t think it enhances (getting) anyone’s bums in seats. I think people are much more likely to go if they don’t know what to expect,” he says. Then adds with another throaty laugh, “Let’s go watch them fail!”

Roger Daltrey says live music is 'the only thing that hasn’t been stolen by the internet' (2024)
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