By Tammy Scileppi
“Where are the artists writing with any real sense of angst and purpose? There are no movements at the moment: we had mod and then there was punk, but it’s so hard to start a movement now,” said Roger Daltrey, the legendary frontman for the English rock band The Who, in a 2014 interview with Daily Mail Online, shortly before the band turned 50.
The group’s famed guitarist and principal songwriter Pete Townshend also took part in the only interview commemorating that momentous event, describing his relationship with Daltrey as “a longstanding friendship that has turned into a bonded love, founded on a deeper understanding of each other’s limitations.”
The iconic band — whose classic lineup included the late bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon — produced a series of hits including, “I Can’t Explain,” “My Generation,” “Substitute,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Who Are You?” And as they gained popularity, were known for channeling their anger at society’s wrongs through their hard-hitting music and sound.
Roger Daltrey’s raw energy will be bringing rock fans to their feet when he returns to Forest Hills Stadium’s historic stage June 17, when he will perform The Who’s 1969 rock opera “Tommy” — this time around with The New York Pops Orchestra — in a special one-night-only Father’s Day concert, backed by the symphonic orchestra (presented by Madison House Presents), returning for their fourth season, as well as a band of seasoned Who players.
During the stadium’s first glory days in the 1960s and ‘70s, the venue hosted many greats, like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Barbara Streisand, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Who. During the summer of 1971, fans came in droves to see Daltrey’s first performance there. Still celebrating “Tommy’s” huge success, The Who took the quaint Forest Hills neighborhood by storm for a bleacher-shaking, sold-out, two-night event.
It seems like déjà vu. During this eagerly anticipated show, many fans will be reliving that sensory-defying rock and roll experience surrounding the surreal tale of a pinball-playing, deaf, dumb and blind kid’s journey from pain to triumph, thanks to an exhilarating score and those memorable vintage classics: “Pinball Wizard,” “See Me, Feel Me,” and others — while one of the world’s foremost pop orchestras adds a compelling musical dimension to the mix.
Younger fans will surely appreciate the music’s cross-generational appeal and “Tommy’s” universal message of hope and healing.
As the story goes, the poor lad is traumatized into catatonia after witnessing the accidental murder of his mother’s lover by his father. Sadly, his suffering continues as he gets older when he falls victim to the abuse of mean relatives and neighbors. But luckily, Tommy thrives, thanks to his amazing pinball powers and eventually breaks out of his shell and becomes, as the song goes, a pinball wizard.
If you didn’t get to see Daltrey’s dynamic rock performance at Forest Hills Stadium back in 2015, when the band celebrated its 50th anniversary on “The Who Hits 50!” tour — and saw their return to the venue after 45-plus years — you have another opportunity to enjoy all the face-melting sounds that made them famous.
“I’m really looking forward to singing ‘Tommy,’ not only with my great backing group, but also one of the finest orchestras in the country. Pete Townshend’s rock music is particularly suited to being embellished by the sounds that an orchestra can add to the band,” Daltrey said in a statement. “With the arrangements written by David Campbell, it should make a memorable night of entertainment for all those who love the arts.”
The band of regular Who players include guitarist/backup singer Simon Townshend, guitarist Frank Simes, keyboardist Loren Gold, bassist Jon Button and drummer Scott Devours.
Last year, The Who played “Tommy” for the first time in 28 years, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, as part of a benefit concert for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Daltrey’s autobiography will be out later this year, and he is celebrating his first just-released solo album in 26 years, “As Long as I Have You,” featuring Pete Townshend, who recently stated: “It shows Roger at the height of his powers as a vocalist.”
For tickets and more information, visit Fores