Roger Daltrey discusses the Who, 'Use It or Lose It' tour, Super Bowl

It's 7 p.m. on a Thursday. I'm still at work. My cubemates have gone home. I'm tired, cranky. My teeth have sweaters on them. The phone rings. It's Roger Daltrey, lead singer of the Who. Yep, that'll wake a guy up for sure. • "Hey, Roger," I say. "Congratulations on getting the upcoming Super Bowl gig in Miami." • "Allegedly," says Daltrey, calling in from New York City, the latest stop on his "Use It or Lose It" solo tour, his first Who-less jaunt since '85. He'll be at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, sans Pete Townshend, on Monday. • "Allegedly? You mean you can't confirm that the Who is playing Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7?" • "I'm not denying it," says the muscly, boxer-pretty 65-year-old. There's a lot of that working-class Hammersmith grunt in the Brit's famous voice. He chuckles: "It's a bit of a strange gig, isn't it?" • "How many times has the NFL asked the Who to play the Super Bowl? Can't be the first time." • "Never been asked," he says. • "C'mon, really?" • "Really. But we're honored. I love sports. I love athletics. It's not a natural gig for us, but it's an honor." Daltrey gives a laugh: "If it were a soccer game, I'd be even more honored!" • "Do you have a set list yet?" • "We're working on it. But we only have 12 minutes. Some of our songs are eight minutes!"

"Use It or Lose It" is your first solo tour since 1985. Why get back on the road now?

Your vocal cords need to be exercised. It's like an athlete. If you stop using them, they all turn to mush. . . . I was a bit nervous actually. You wonder if you still have an audience. What will I play? But I play all the Who songs I love, and I do them the way I want to play them. We've changed Behind Blue Eyes a bit; there are some surprises in there now. The tour has been incredibly relaxing. I don't give a s--- what happens. And like I always say, it's a f------ lot more fun that working in a factory!

Daltrey has promised to sing a few covers in Clearwater. Although he refuses to reveal his set list — "There's no surprises anymore!" he barks — a recent NYC set included CCR's Born on the Bayou and a Johnny Cash medley. Very cool, huh?

Like Jagger and Richards, Lennon and McCartney, Daltrey and Townshend thrive on a prickly brotherhood. Be honest: Your guitar player is a pain in the a--, isn't he?

He's not a pain in the a--. He's an artist, and he doesn't always fit into your little round hole. We respect each other. Our relationship is born out of respect. We're still very much a group.

Daltrey's guitarist on his solo tour? Simon Townshend, Pete's younger brother.

I just spoke to a group of high school kids, and there was a student rocking a Who T-shirt. Why are young rock fans more inspired by the old than the new?

There's an intellect behind the writing of the old style. Now it's all done by formula. It's so difficult to find good new music. In the '60s, the music reflected the one true great freedom we had. We can all clap our hands. We can all grunt. We can make music. Music will be the last thing they're going to take away from us to control us, you know?

Daltrey misses the "wonderful culture" of vinyl records. "Now we get these stupid little boxes. You can't read the f------ lyrics! Get me my f------- reading glasses! What we need is for vinyl to become trendy again."

If you go

Roger Daltrey performs at 8 p.m. Monday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $62.50-$128. (727) 791-7400.

The Beer Pong Playlist

Beer pong is a ridiculous party game. And yet, it's not nearly as ridiculous as, say, a 39-year-old man falling in love with said party game. We didn't have beer pong when I was at Syracuse. Beer bong? Absolutely. I wish I could explain to the uninitiated that beer pong is a complex battle of wits on a chess-ian battlefield. But it's basically just tossing ping-pong balls in cups. And then drinking. And then trash-talking your neighbor Chuck. It's kind of like Lilliputian basketball if Jonathan Swift were jacked on Schlitz. Set up 10 cups in a triangle at both ends of a long table. Fill each cup with three swallows of beverage. Teams alternate trying to throw ping-pong balls in opponents' cups. If a ball goes in one of yours, drink up and set the cup to the side. The losers are the ones with no cups left; they must then drink the victors' remaining cups. Yeah, not exactly Stratego. But the other night, my team celebrated like Olympians — then trash-talked Chuck. If you're 39 and looking for a great way to launch a midlife crisis, have at it!

1 Beer Run, Garth Brooks & George Jones

2 In Heaven There Is No Beer, Frankie Yankovic

3 Beer Barrel Polka, the Andrews Sisters

4 Beer for My Horses, Willie Nelson & Toby Keith

5 Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers, ZZ Top

6 Beercan,

Beck

7 I Like Beer,

Tom T. Hall

8 There's a Tear in My Beer, Hank Williams

9 The Beerhunter, Bob & Doug McKenzie

10 Warm Beer and Cold Women, Tom Waits

Tom Petty &

the Heartbreakers

Album: The Live Anthology (Reprise)

In stores: Now

Give the gift of Gainesville: Over the course of my career, I've seen live sets by Eric Clapton, Slash, the Edge, Angus Young, Jimmy Page and Richard Thompson. But the most explosive guitar performance was by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers at the St. Pete Times Forum, July '08. The anticipation of Campbell's soloing would flutter in your chest. You couldn't wait for Petty to pipe down and have his dour-faced sideman step into the spotlight. So it's no surprise that on this warm, ungussied four-CD live set — spanning four decades of gigs both intimate and huge — the 59-year-old Campbell stands out as an indomitable gunslinger. That piercing tone, like a melodic bottle rocket, has had bittersweet boost and Fourth of July flair ever since the group's days in FLA. With that in mind, Petty here opts for the strength of his band over the obvious hits (the rarity Have Love Will Travel, a quiet I Won't Back Down recorded at the American Museum of Natural History in New York). This is going to sound mighty good on a Friday night.

Reminds us of: There's also a $150 'luxe edition that's total insanity. You get: all four discs, a bonus fifth disc, two unreleased DVDs (including a '78 New Year's gig), a vinyl reissue of '76's Official Live 'Leg, a Blu-ray disc featuring 62 songs, a concert poster, backstage pass reproductions and a lithograph.

Download these: Petty is as proud of the covers as his own tunes. So try out the Dead's Friend of the Devil (recorded in '97 at San Francisco's Fillmore), Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well (from the '06 Bonnaroo Festival) and a jammed-out version of Sweet Willie Dixon's I Just Want to Make Love to You (Toronto '95).

Grade: A

ALBUM REVIEW

Roger Daltrey discusses the Who, 'Use It or Lose It' tour, Super Bowl 11/29/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 29, 2009 2:47pm]

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