THE WHO HITS 50, Shepherd’s Bush Empire – Evening Standard, 12 Nov 2014


This evening of high class karaoke was an autumn stopgap between Roger Daltrey’s annual season of Teenage Cancer Trust shows, and an odd concept for a gig.

There aren’t many concerts  where an original band plays with a succession of guest vocalists even though the real singer is in the wings.

So we had Liam Gallagher, Eddie Vedder, Ricky Wilson and many more doing Who hits with the current touring band, including rock royalty Zak (son of Ringo) Starkey and Simon (brother of Pete) Townshend, but not Pete himself.

“I think he’d rather do anything than hear his songs played back to him,” said Daltrey, introducing proceedings. He missed a treat, mostly.

With the band well drilled for a 50th anniversary tour next month, this was a rare all-star show that didn’t feel underrehearsed. The guitars were intimidatingly loud, but even they couldn’t disguise comedian Rich Hall croaking like a dalek over You Better You Bet.

Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott came close to Daltrey’s mighty roar, as did Vedder, who proved his commitment to the cause by revealing that he had abandoned his wife on her birthday to be here.

Daltrey collaborator and cancer survivor Wilko Johnson was an appropriate booking, strumming along to The Kids Are Alright with actual kids The Strypes, while Tom Odell proved that he has more wildness than his John Lewis advert on a spirited Getting in Tune.

Most striking were an irreverent Rizzle Kicks, who dared to add a new rap and a Run DMC feel to Who Are You, and Liam Gallagher, making his first concert appearance since announcing the split of his underwhelming post-Oasis band Beady Eye. He barked My Generation, once a fixture in Oasis concerts, with captivating menace. If anyone else needs a guest singer, book him while he’s not busy.

The Who play December 17-18, O2 Arena, SE10 (0844 824 4824,