LEGENDARY frontman of The Who Roger Daltrey is bringing his solo tour to the Villa Marina on July 28.
The show will feature The Who classics, and the iconic album Tommy in full. The 20 million-selling double album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008 for ‘historical, artistic and significant value’.
Click the link at right of this story for the full audio interview ->
Relaxed, friendly and in good humour, Roger, now 67, speaks to us ahead of his visit:
How did this solo tour come about?
‘Playing the Royal Albert Hall in March was the first solo gig I’ve done ever in Britain, apart from charity gigs. It was so well received, and it was a revelation to me how original the music was once we’d got to grips with it, so different from anything else that’s out there, so we decided to take it out on the road and see what happens. I’m doing 18 shows in the UK then I’m off to the States.’
And you’re returning to the Isle of Man in July?
‘It’s good to be coming back that’s for sure – great audiences there [The Who played the Peel Bay Festival in 2007]. I haven’t got Pete (Townshend, The Who guitarist) with me, but I’ve got his brother Simon, and the band are just fantastic. It’s a different show, but if the Isle of Man audience enjoyed the one in 2007, they’ll enjoy this one.’
So it’s a new band?
‘Simon has been a protege of mine for 16-18 years, a huge talent in his own right. The rest of the band are a bunch of American musicians who I’ve been working with for the last two years. Absolutely fabulous musicians.’
Do the new players bring a new dynamic to The Who material?
‘We do play Tommy in a way that is perhaps more true to the original than how The Who ever did on stage. There’s only one part of the album left out on this tour, which is an instrumental piece that we felt to be unnecessary. When The Who first played it live Tommy gained a new dynamic on stage. Though I think that goes for most of the records we’ve ever made, it has always been better live.’
Is it a challenge recreating Tommy’s complex and multi-layered studio recording on stage?
‘Yes, the original is very, very layered. But with the vocalists and quality of musicianship in the band we can cover it. It sounds fabulous, and I’m just having fun.’
How are you coping with the rigours of touring these days?
‘I had a bit of a throat scare 18 months ago. [Roger is alluding to the pre-cancerous growth removed from his vocal cord prior to playing the 2010 Super Bowl half time show]. Touch wood everything’s OK. I didn’t know what it was until I had a biopsy. There were some sleepless nights there for a while. And after a bit of work on my vocal cords, my voice is better than it’s been for 20 years. So I’m enjoying every minute of it now. I just want to use it as much as I can before it does finally go.’
What are your memories of The Who playing the Isle of Man in the past?
‘Way back in the 60s we played the Isle of Man several times, didn’t we? All I remember then though is they were the days of Mods and Rockers, and Mods in the Isle of Man weren’t very welcome! I can’t remember what year that was though, it was very early on.’
The track Happy Jack from 1966 references the Isle of Man doesn’t it?
‘Yeah – “Happy Jack was a man who lived in the sand in the Isle of Man”. But if you read the Japanese translation, Happy Jack was a “raft”... and HE lived in the sand in the Isle of Man! There’s the trouble with the internet, people get lyrics off there and they’re mostly wrong.’
In this age of internet downloads, the music industry must be a different beast to when you started out?
‘Not half. I’m in the lucky position, with The Who, that most of our career is behind us, and the position we hold is kind of unique. I do feel sorry for young bands starting out, it’s very difficult now to make a living out of music. I don’t see any sign of it getting better. Where it hits hardest is the everyday working musicians. It’s really really tough. Hardly anyone buys records, they take them for free off the internet. And bands’ live shows are recorded on phones and posted on YouTube – so where do they make their money? Also the cost of touring is astronomic. Especially health and safety and insurance etc, in the overburdened bureaucracy of Europe, it’s made it a nightmare. It’s not so bad in the States but the cost to tour in Europe is becoming almost prohibitive. No one wants ever in their life to go out for two months away from home working their balls off for nothing.
It sounds a bit bleak for budding young bands . . .
‘So many of these young bands are really, really struggling. All the festivals are on TV, which doesn’t do them any favours, it takes away the mystique. Whatever people say, word of mouth is still the most powerful tool to create a “cult” following. Never give them too much! Every weekend there’s another festival on TV, with the same bands! It’s awful!
‘Without a hit record it’s very difficult. Before there were countless little bands that could earn reasonable livings. If you can’t sell records because of the internet, and the cost of touring is such that it’s prohibitive, then that’s the end of the music business. It’s interesting times. Let’s see.’
Away from music, what keeps you busy?
‘Mostly I just sling myself into my charity work, I just love it [Roger is a patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust]. I’m so passionate about it, I’m just getting it started in America now too. One of my ambitions is to push it worldwide. We lead the treatment for cancer for kids in the world. I’m just determined to make people notice what we do, and give teenagers worldwide the benefit of what we do.’
What are your future plans for recording and touring?
‘I don’t live my life like that, I take one thing at a time, and let’s find out what’s next. But The Who haven’t gone away, the last gig we played was January so certainly not. We’re just still trying to deal with a few issues. One was my voice, which we’ve overcome, another is to do with Pete’s hearing which we’re working on. We’re trying out new sound systems to get to a stage level where we’re not going to take the last bit of his hearing away. And hopefully get back out there, but we’ll see.’
Tickets for the Villa Marina show are £46.50 and are available now from the Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal, Douglas, by ringing the ticket hotline on 600555 and online at villagaiety.com