(Editor’s note: I wrote a little more extensively about Eddie Vedder’s role at Roger Daltrey’s show over on the Crosscut blog. You can read it by clicking here.)
Roger Daltrey’s named his first solo tour since 1985 “Use It Or Lose It,” a reference to his voice, and the 65-year-old Who frontman definitely did use it Monday night at Showbox SoDo.
Daltrey played a set of classic Who material along with a few songs from his solo catalog and some choice covers (including “Better Man” which was one of three songs featuring a cameo by Eddie Vedder) to a packed crowd at the cavernous venue. On the tour Daltrey is rearranging Who songs and playing lesser-known tracks from the band’s catalog. Monday’s show started off on the rearrangement note with a slightly acoustic arrangement of “Who Are You.” The set also included a harmonica-heavy “Going Mobile,” Daltrey’s “Walk On Water” and a goosebump-inducing “Baba O’Riley.”
Also making an appearance was “Squeezebox,” which is perhaps the worst rock song ever written. Unfortunately immediately upon its first notes all the liquored-up fifty-somethings in the crowd proceeded to awkwardly dance which was equally entertaining and slightly scary. Although I suppose I’m being a little harsh considering when I’m in my 50s I will probably be drunkenly dancing around in a similar fashion to The Hold Steady, Pearl Jam and other bands I love so dearly.
Daltrey’s five-piece band was more than serviceable as a Who replacement crew. Simon Townshend is the most notable member of the group as he is Pete’s brother and he sang a few of Pete’s vocal parts throughout the show. But while the band was tight they were definitely not The Who (or The Two as sometimes called by curmudgeons now that there are only two surviving original members of the four-piece). It was an amped-down show without the trappings of a The Who arena rock show.
Almost as impressive as the set list was the sound itself as SoDo is not known for having great sound. The barn-like warehouse of a venue can swallow a band’s sound and I have witnessed many top-tier modern rock acts (My Chemical Romance, Coheed and Cambria, Placebo) fall prey to its murderous sound-stealing demons. But that was not the case Monday as Daltrey’s voice soared through the club and when Vedder came out to help close the night by screaming the louder parts of “Bargain” he almost sounded better than he did at KeyArena a few weeks prior.
Paper Zoo, a youthful four-piece, opened the show with a five-song set. They are a little difficult to pigeonhole into one classification of rock, but I’ll give it a try (isn’t that my duty as a rock writer?). Put it this way, if Wolfmother had taken more acid and smoked less weed and listened to Pink Floyd instead of Black Sabbath they might come close to sounding like Paper Zoo.
The highlight of the group’s set was “Paper Zoo,” a deliciously demented Sgt. Pepper’s-esque trip of a song that acts as both a proper theme song and proper introduction to the band. Upon first glance the Paper Zooers, wearing tattered clothes and looking the role of children of ZoSo, seemed like an odd choice to open for a rock legend. But upon first listen, the band’s psychedelic sound rooted in classic rock made them a perfect fit for Daltrey’s power rock end of the musical spectrum.