Roger Daltrey Rocks Out with the New York Pops in The Who’s ‘Tommy’ in Forest Hills
By Megan Wrappe, Contributing Writer, June 20, 2018
Growing up, I didn’t always listen to the “coolest” music of the day. With parents who were into 80s New Wave (and wished the 70s disco era hadn’t existed), but kind of accepted classic rock, it was a strange musical household. And it didn’t stop there. As a young 13-year-old, I was taken to see concerts like Pat Benetar, Journey, and The B-52s, so I’m used to being one of the younger people in the crowd. I experienced this feeling again when I attended the recent New York Pop’s concert featuring Roger Daltrey performing The Who’s Tommy. Knowing that Daltrey was the founding member of the group I was anticipating it to be a special treat, but I didn’t quite realize how much of one.
The sound of the New York Pops orchestra joined perfectly with Daltrey’s voice — which, if I do say so, hasn’t aged one iota since the beginning of his career. The Pops didn’t come off sounding too “classical,” with their performance style edging toward that of an actual rock band made up of classical instruments. I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to hear violins play rock and roll again, but I can’t wait until I do.
The Forest Hills Stadium is a unique venue, in that due to it’s age, it’s actually fairly intimate for its size. I was sitting in the raised stadium seating, but I could still see the stage perfectly and my view of the audience was even better. I could see every hip-shaking move, every jig, and every sing-along that was going on breathing life into the stadium’s energy. I looked around a few times and thought I was possibly the youngest person in attendance, but that was fine with me. In fact, I enjoyed it even more because it gave me the opportunity to see The Who’s Tommy from both an outsiders and insiders perspective all at the same time.
The concert was a faithful performance of the titled work, and fittingly, Daltrey didn’t really stray from his band’s album for 95 percent of the concert. But towards the end, he just couldn’t help but play The Who’s old favorites (and one of mine) like “Who Are You,” and “Baba O’Riley.” Needless to say, this got a reaction from the crowd to the point where I saw a sea of gray-haired heads bobbing like they were teenagers again. At the end of the night, all I could think to myself was “is there anything The New York Pop’s can’t do?” This was a true end-of-the-season showstopper.
Roger Daltrey in The Who’s Tommy with The New York Pops at the Forest Hills Stadium, Forest Hills, Queens, on June 17, 2018. Music and lyrics by Pete Townsend. The New York Pops conducted by Steve Reineke; with No Plan B Band: Simon Townshend (guitar/backup singer), Frank Simes (guitar), Loren Gold (keyboard), Jon Button (bass), and Scott Devours (drums).
Cover: Roger Daltrey; photo: Genevieve Rafter Keddy.