There was a rock god in town on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 when Roger Daltrey – enshrined in the Rock Hall with The Who – made a much anticipated stop at the Cumberland River’s Ascend Amphitheater with one of his group’s most revered tenets in tow. Tommy performed with the Nashville Symphony was an amazing journey through space and time that absolutely hit all the right notes with the Music City faithful.
Roger revealed that he initially thought about undertaking a solo show like this back in the 80’s when The Who following their first farewell took an extended break that left the lauded frontman with some time on his hands. Daltrey explained after the thrilling 90-minute performance of what is commonly known as the first real rock opera that he always felt his bandmate Pete Townshend’s masterpiece would sound good in this configuration.
He’ll get no argument from us. Daltrey – who brought some of The Who along with him as they are all a part of his solo band for the past ten years – enhanced the famous four sides with help from the always awesome Nashville Symphony Orchestra. An added bonus was the presence of the capable and charismatic Simon Townshend – younger brother of Pete. He both looked and sounded the part and added the cool component of being able to say you saw Townshend and Daltrey on stage together.
One of rock’s biggest icons and leader of a pillar of the British Invasion Daltrey appeared invigorated and energized as he swaggered and swung his microphone in all directions in patented form. Perhaps the impetus for putting this very special concert for a select run of dates this spring and summer was the singer’s recent illness and subsequent recovery.
By pairing up with world-class orchestras in prestigious venues Daltrey is retelling the tale of the misguided pinball-playing messiah augmented by the bells and whistles the substantial added instruments can provide. We saw it, felt it and heard it in crisp clarity on this Nashville night. The always skillful Symphony added the perfect amount of power and pretty that is now seared into our memory as a majestic night of music in Music City.
Longtime fans of the legend’s shirtless look were lucky enough to get a glimpse as the cruel southern humidity had helped Roger soak through his sheen white button down by the end of the terrific Tommy reenactment producing Tennessee’s version of the wet T-shirt effect. No one seemed to mind.
Following last year’s well-publicized and life threatening battle with meningitis the 74-year old singer radiated wellness with powerhouse vocals still in command. The mood was even celebratory as Roger had just released his first solo album As Long As I Have You earlier in the month. Volunteers were on-hand walking around and selling the CD with proceeds to benefit the Shriners Hospital for Children and Teen Cancer America. A three pack of encores began with the anthems “Who Are You” and “Baba O’Riley” that closed out the orchestra’s work for the session. Following band introductions the new and solemn “Always Heading Home” was a nice soothing way to send the patrons back out to the heat and steam on First Avenue.
The Roger Daltrey with the Nashville Symphony concert was a special partner presentation between the Ascend Amphitheater and The Schermerhorn Symphony Center located in the heart of Music City. The classical looking building is home to the Laura Turner Concert Hall and it is one of the finest sounding venues in Nashville. Their focus is classical music but the Nashville Symphony also hosts a wide range of rock artists with upcoming shows by America, Buddy Guy and The Weeklings.
The Nashville Symphony and Tommy were perfect together.