Sunglassed and svelte, Roger Daltrey stepped onstage at The Joint in Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to defy his 74 years with a roaring, Who-heavy set, fronting a band that included Pete Townshend’s little brother Simon on rhythm guitar. Kicking off with the powerful, prog-edged “Pinball Wizard,” Daltrey and his dudes had everyone standing. He grabbed an acoustic six-string for a soaring, harmony-soaked “I Can See for Miles,” then paid tribute to President Trump’s headline-hogging ego with “Another Tricky Day,” off The Who’s 1981 record Face Dances. “Behind Blue Eyes” was surprisingly brawny, Daltrey sounding less like a confused young gun and more like a battle-scarred veteran. “Giving It All Away,” from his 1973 solo debut, was deeply stirring, especially as his brass-knuckled voice reached the final line (I was just a boy), displaying hard-earned wisdom tinged with the melancholy of age.
His strength as a singer has been his ability to make his Who mate Townshend’s pop tunes sound rough-and-tumble. This was evident in the joyful, ebullient “Athena,” propelled by bright open chords. Its remarkable lyrics (My heart felt like a shattered glass in an acid bath) seemed to prompt Daltrey to talk affectionate smack about Townshend’s writing. (“There is always a shitload of words in a Pete Townshend song,” he quipped.) Then he unleashed “Who Are You,” performed so forcefully that the former sheet-metal worker–turned–iconic rocker broke a tambourine.
But it was the closing cluster—Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” “Baba O’Riley” (which everyone calls “Teenage Wasteland”), “Young Man Blues”—that really caught fire, Daltrey confidently swinging his corded microphone above the fawning, frenzied audience’s heads like it was 1970 all over again. Exiting the stage, he swatted their hands like a pro in his prime. No encore, but experiencing a legend who showed no sign of stasis in a two-hour concert was enough of a reward.