Casino Rama, Ontario - November 5, 2009

JANE STEVENSON - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:49 AM ET

RAMA, Ont.- The voice was rough, but the spirit was willing.

Roger Daltrey's Use It or Lose It solo tour is supposedly about keeping his voice in shape should The Who go out on the road next year.

But even the 65-year-old singer admitted he was sounding mighty hoarse on Thursday night at a nearly sold-out show at Casino Rama.

"Every time I come to this part of Canada, something to do with coming through Cleveland, I get a cold," said Daltrey after kicking off the show with The Who classic Who Are You. "We'll get through it."

And so he and his five-man band, which included Who guitarist Pete Townshend's young brother Simon on guitar and Frank Simes on lead guitar - valiantly soldiered on for the next hour-and-45-minutes.

Daltrey even took a break from singing at one point to, as he put it, "let the pipes cool down a bit," and played harmonica while Townshend-soundalike Simon admirably took over lead vocals on The Who's Going Mobile, and sounded great.

"I can't help that the voice is like this tonight," said Daltrey as the show wound down. "I'm human. It doesn't matter. It's rock and roll."

He continued: "In the fifty years that I've been doing this, people remember the mistakes and enjoy the mistakes better than when you get it right."

Well, certainly they remember them.

Enjoy, that might be a stretch, except that Daltry was having so much fun up on stage, his enthusiasm and playfulness was infectious.

Clad in a white shirt, blue jeans, blue-tinted glasses, and looking a decade and a half younger than his actual age, the singer was in a chatty, story-and-joke-telling mood between songs.

The set list was made up of Who classics (Pictures Of Lily, The Kids Are Alright, I Can See For Miles, Young Man Blues), some of his solo work (Days Of Light, Who's Gonna Walk On Water) and covers (Taj Mahal's Freedom Ride, Levon Helm's Gimme A Stone, Bo Diddley's I'm A Man, Johnny Cash's I Got Stripes, Ring Of Fire, etc).

The most telling moment in terms of Daltrey's next musical direction was a story he told about recording Behind Blue Eyes with The Chieftains in Belfast and the Irish roots band winning their first Grammy for the album of collaborations.

"Those lucky buggers got a Grammy and I didn't," he joked. "I want mine for that album. By the time I get a Grammy it'll be called a Granny."

More seriously, he said it was the kind of music he was interested in pursuing.

Daltrey eventually broke out his signature microphone twirling moves during Young Man's Blues - which featured some stellar playing from Simes - and the show standout, Baba O' Riley (even unbuttoning his shirt for this one), but otherwise maintained an acoustic folk-rootsy vibe throughout the show.

He even turned The Who classic My Generation into a blues number.

"With a voice like this, with the way it is tonight, we can do a bit of blues," he said by way of introduction.

Interestingly, Daltrey chose to close the show with a never performed, Townshend-sung Who number, Blue, Red and Gray, with just him alone on stage and playing a ukele .

"Pete - he would never sing it on stage," explained the singer before mimicking Townshend's voice: "I'd look f---ing stupid standing up there with a f---ing ukelele."

"Well, here I am," concluded Daltrey to cheers from the audience. "And do I give a sh--?"

"Makes it kind of poignant," said Daltrey of his cracking voice mid-song.

THE BEST OF DALTREY

* Who frontman Roger Daltrey did as much talking as he did singing on Thursday night at Casino Rama during his solo show there.

* Here's the best of what he had to say between tunes.

* "Me, an Englishman with an Irish group in Belfast, it was like Baghdad.

* I got out with my legs, my life, they blew up the hotel after I left." -- On recording with The Chieftains in the '90s.

* "The No. 1 reason is to get my ass off the sofa. I don't know ... singers with fat asses." - On why he's on a solo jaunt.

* "That song is a great pointer to the genius of Pete Townshend. The Beatles were writing I Want To Hold Your Hand, She loves You. He was writing about something much more significant to a bloke." - On Pictures Of Lily.

* "These days the women, you're getting tattoos in places, I didn't even know you had places. When you're 75 your asses are going to look like a bundle of wet newspaper." - Introducing the song,Tattoo.

* "Hello and what's your name? I'm as deaf as a post. This is Lisa and the old man's getting flowers. Now the old man's got the flowers." - Addressing a young woman who handed him a bouquet of red roses.

* "This is one for the Americans. Next time they vote for a president, the need to decide who they want. They vote him in. They love him for 10 weeks. It's like a reality TV show. Within six months, you're voted off. Rubbish. C'mon, give the guy a chance." - Introducing the song, Who's Gonna Walk On Water.

* "I don't do encores anymore. I've given them up. We didn't do them in the '70s. You could scream for three hours, we wouldn't come back. Destroying everything is a great way of getting out of doing your own encore." - On The Who destroying their equipment.

SET LIST:

Who Are You

Pictures Of Lily

Tattoo

Behind Blue Eyes

Days Of Light

The Kids Are Alright

Freedom Ride

Gimme A Stone

Going Mobile

Who's Gonna Walk On Water

Squeezebox

I Can See For Miles

My Generation

I'm A Man

Young Man Blues

Baba O'Riley

Johnny Cash Medley

Blue, Red and Grey


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