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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisThe idea of mounting a new rock opera isn't all that common these days, but there are a handful from the past that still endure in present tense. One of the most critically and commercially acclaimed of all time is unquestionably The Who's "Tommy," a 20 million album seller that helped user the English rock giants into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Though the band last mounted a large scale tour of the epic work in 1989, lead singer Roger Daltrey is taking his solo hand at the soundtrack in front to back sequential order.
Along with a five piece band that included guitarist Simon Townshend (younger brother of The Who's Pete Townshend), the 67-year-old singer dedicated the first act to the 1969 undertaking at an absolutely electric Venue at Horseshoe Casino. Enveloped by alluring animations spread across three giant screens, Daltrey's full-throttled rock n' roll range still packs plenty of punch and helped ignite classics like "I'm Free," "See Me, Feel Me" and "We're Not Gonna Take It." Of course, the most popular cut "Pinball Wizard" earned the most response, though it was also integral of progressing the storyline of the "deaf, dumb and blind" boy who winds up shedding his personal demons and sparks a movement that encourages others to do the same.
The thematic grandeur may have simmered during the second half, but the momentum didn't dip a single second thanks to an exhaustive treatment of both major Who hits and rarely performed album cuts. On the familiar front, "I Can See For Miles," "The Kids Are Alright" and "Behind Blue Eyes" helped paint a picture of the band's seminal role in the British Invasion, while "Who Are You" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" illustrated the legends' classic rock evolution.
However, Daltrey dove well beyond the obvious, dusting off many lost but not forgotten rarities like the solo "Days of Light" and The Who's "Young Man Blues," while also unexpectedly tipping his hat to the late great Johnny Cash during a medley that included "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Ring of Fire." When it was all added up, the varied segments totaled no less than 35 songs clocking in at almost three hours, a truly exhaustive event that didn't just give "Tommy" a fresh perspective, put pointed out just how much The Who contributed to the history of rock in general.
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