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Tanglewood’s 2024 Popular Artist Series kicks-off with John Fogerty and Roger Daltrey

The Popular Artists Series at Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass., kicked off its 2024 schedule with a bang – not just because of strong performances from two famous old rockers, but also due to heavy thunderstorms that swept through the area.

Last Wednesday night, the legendary John Fogerty debuted the long-running summer concert series with a string of iconic hit songs from his old band’s – Credence Clearwater Revival – legendary discography, including tracks like “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” “Born on the Bayou,” and “Fortunate Son,” and a few of his solo hits like “Centerfield” and “Old Man Down The Road.”

The show’s official opening act, George Thorogood and The Destroyers’ set was interrupted by a powerful Berkshires’ storm that brought a power outage and torrential rains that delayed the show for nearly an hour until power was restored.

Tanglewood shed ticket holders were able to stay dry during the storm while many lawn ticket holders retreated to the various storm shelters on the event grounds.

Roger Daltrey Shakes Tanglewood with Classic Rockers

For Tanglewood’s second popular artist concert of the season, things went much smoother in terms of the weather.

Another string of strong thunderstorms and torrential downpours on Saturday ended by late afternoon in time for Tanglewood to dry out for an energy-filled concert by The Who’s Roger Daltrey.

With an accomplished band at his back, the famous classic rocker peeled off one hit after another, spanning the rock legend’s five-plus decades career.

Daltrey and his band performed a total of 21 songs during the two-hour concert, including many Who classics, more than a handful of great covers, and singles from his own solo career.

The concert kicked off just as the setting sun broke through the clearing clouds over the picturesque Tanglewood grounds.

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Daltrey opened his show by ruminating over whether The Who will ever get back together again.

He’s down for it, but doubts Who bandmate, and main songwriter/guitarist Pete Townshed, would go for it. The band’s last reunion tour was 1989.

Interestingly – and perhaps even counter-intuitively – Daltrey opened the performance with a cover of Townshed’s superb 1980 solo hit, “Let My Love Open the Door.”

After the opening track, Daltrey conversed with the audience about playing at the 1969 Woodstock Festival followed up by an impressive cover of Taj Mahal’s “Freedom Ride.”

It’s definitely worth noting that while many old rockers’ vocals degrade – sometimes to the point of being unlistenable – as they age, Daltrey’s vocal skills belie such an expectation.

In fact, many concert goers – and long-time Who fans – seemed pleasantly surprised by the strength, clarity and resonance of the old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s vocal performance.

This reviewer was bracing himself for an old dude’s crackling and strained vocals, a sense of foreboding that was completely unwarranted.

The next number, “Who Are You,” is a particularly challenging vocal song even for singers at the height of their talents. But Daltrey pulled it off.

Again, while Daltrey doesn’t have the iconic, powerful lion-roar vocals of The Who’s heyday period (roughly 1964-1978), he’s singing good enough at his age to please concert-goers.

Among the many Who classics performed on Saturday night were “Squeeze Box,” “Going Mobile,” “Baba O’Riley,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Also included in the setlist were other – but lesser-known by the masses – Who songs like “So Sad About Us,” “Real Good Looking Boy,” and “Naked Eye.”

The crowd was treated to an excellent performance of Daltrey’s 1985 solo hit singles like “After The Fire,” “Waiting For A Friend,” and 1992’s “Days of Light.”

The concert included a diverse mix of cover songs – eight in total. Some of the best renditions included CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?,” Paul Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble,” and Leo Sayer’s “Giving it All Away.”

Daltrey also took questions from the audience on slips of paper throughout the concert.

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One question asked whether it was true that Jimi Hendrix’s hit song “Foxy Lady” was really written about Daltrey’s wife Heather Taylor (they married in 1971), which he confirmed was true.

Another questioner asked if Daltrey would take off his shirt at which point some women applauded and woo-hoo’ed while other concert-goers yelled out “no, no.”

Daltrey added: “There’s nothing pretty about an 80-year-old man without a shirt on.”

Another question asked whether he still misses the Who’s iconic drummer, Keith Moon, who died in 1978, at the height of the band’s success.

“I miss him every day,” Daltrey said. “He lives in my heart. He was so talented, but so f**ed up.”

One clear takeaway from Daltrey’s performance is the inescapable awareness that ‘this old rocker is really having a good time (and not just going through the motions to get to the end),’ and it’s infectious.

It just goes to show that doing what you love and having fun will go a long, long way when facing the inevitabilities of aging. Perhaps Neil Young said it best – “it’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

It’s impossible to put into a couple of sentences The Who’s impact on the era of classic rock music.

On the heels of the Beatles stunning global success, the British Invasion – as it was coined years later – hit with full force thanks to bands like The Who, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and others who changed the landscape of pop rock music worldwide with spectacular songs that still resinate today.

Upcoming concerts in the Popular Artist Series include Boyz II Men (6/27); Jon Batiste (6/28-sold out); Trey Anastasio with the Boston Pops (6/29); Brandi Carlile (6/30-sold out);Jason Mraz (7/2); James Taylor (7/3,7/4); The Pretenders (7/16); Beck (7/23); Judy Collins/Indigo Girls/Rufus Wainwright (8/30); Dispatch (8/31).

For tickets, go to BSO.org

Photos by Hilary Scott