It’s that time of year again when the Royal Albert Hall is taken over for a week of gigs to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust. Kicking off this week’s events which include Sir Paul McCartney, Jessie J and Pulp was a rare collection of talent brought together by the charity’s patron, Roger Daltrey of The Who.
Now in it’s 12th year at the iconic Royal Albert Hall, the gigs have sometimes given us those rare opportunities to catch a truly one off occasion and tonight was one of those. Billed as Roger Daltrey and friends, the initial line up included Paul Weller and Kelly Jones (Stereophonics). What we got on the night though also included Ronnie Wood (Rolling Stones), Steve Winwood and Amy MacDonald.
It’s likely that nobody else in the world will ever see Weller, Jones and Wood all together up on the stage singing the Faces “Oh La La” and the Beatles “Don’t let me down”, as Mastercard would say, ‘Priceless’.
The evening kicked off with the headliner Daltrey; now it wasn’t an attempt to confuse anybody by reversing the running order just a short set by Roger playing a few acoustic songs including Taj Mahal’s “Freedom Ride” before he left the stage to Paul Freeman. We gave you a heads up about Paul at the begining of the year when we had the following quote from Todd Rundgren ‘If there was any justice in the world, Paul Freeman would be a household name.’ Roger Daltrey might be accused of wanting to keep him from being one too as he forgot to introduce him! As it is, Paul needed no introduction and kept the audience entertained with his songs. Roger made up for it later when he apologised for his omission when introducing Paul as part of his ‘house band’ for the night. He also complimented Paul on learning the material so quickly.
Following Paul’s short set we had the entrance of the Stereophonics’ singer Kelly Jones. He is joined by their guitarist Adam Zindani and a string quartet. It was a nice contrast of Jones’ gravel toned voice with the lush string arrangements. It was during Kelly’s set that we had the first special artist combination. Joining Kelly were Paul Weller on keyboards and the walking skeleton that is The Stones’ Ronnie Wood.
This section of songs was a real highlight of the evening. Starting with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I put a spell on you“, a song most would probably associate with Nina Simone. This was followed by a cover of The Beatles “Don’t let me down”, a song both The Stereophonics and Paul Weller had covered previously. The finale of this homage to great song writing was a cover of Ronnie Wood’s Faces’ song “Oh La La”
This may have been an obvious song choice as Kelly’s vocals are very similar to Rod Stewart who, whilst not singing on the single version of the song, did front the Faces, however it was a perfect one.
Coming off this high it was nice that the next artist on started with a gentle song. Paul Weller, on his own this time with The Jam song, “English Rose”. Nowadays Paul seems to want to forget his period in The Jam. I can understand him wanting people to like what he’s doing today but there’s no reason to forget classic songs he wrote so it was good to see. This was not going to be a Weller greatest hits package though but we did get the other wonderful Weller love song “You do something to me”.
By the time that Daltrey took to the stage again for his ‘Electric set’ the audience at the magnificent Royal Albert Hall were buzzing. They’d already had what most would describe as a top gig and the main course was still to come. As it was we were given a little time to savour the delights as Daltrey did a few numbers including a wonderful “Who are You” before once again ceding the stage.
This time he introduced the wonderfully powerful Amy MacDonald who gave us three songs including a rousing acoustic rendition of Springsteen’s “Born to Run” which earned her a rightful standing ovation.
One more legend before we were back to Daltrey and that was Steve Winwood. A multi-instrumentalist who’s played with the Who’s Who of rock over the years including Hendrix, Clapton and more recently, on his Stanley Road record, Paul Weller. His Grammy winner “Higher Love” brought the crowd to their feet and once again brought them in as backing singers.
When you think a gig can’t get any better Daltrey returned to the stage to give us rousing renditions of Who classics such as “Pinball Wizard”, “Won’t get fooled again” and “Baba O’Reily”. Whilst Pete Townshend’s windmill guitar action was missing, Ronnie Wood did a good job of trying to fill the role (with the arm at least). Kelly Jones was also on stage for this finale as was Michael Miley of Rival Sons. Miley did well to be there as he had also played earlier that night with Rival Sons at the HMV Forum in North London. Kelly Jones perhaps wished he’d done a little more prep for the song as not only was he reading the lyrics on stage but he also missed a queue and Daltrey had to help him out.
All told though, a fantastic ‘priceless’ evening of music worthy of such grand surroundings. It will be hard to live up to the quality of this line-up but long may Daltrey continue. What could be better than a great evening of music AND raising money for such a wonderful cause. Teenagers with cancer are all too readily lumped into wards full of elderly patients, it’s TCT that keeps the focus on what is important to their age group and rock music is one thing that bridges the age gap as could so easily be seen tonight.
No photo pass for this evening, however photos from my point and shoot camera capture some of the special moments.
Not definitive but set lists included:
Roger Daltrey (Acoustic with Charlie Hart, Danny Thompson, Jody Linscott, Billy Nichols and Frank Simes)
Gimme a Stone
You’re My Star
I Put A Spell On You (Nina Simone cover) with Ronnie Wood & Paul Weller
Don’t Let Me Down (Beatles cover) with Ronnie Wood & Paul Weller
Ooh La La (Faces cover) with Ronnie Wood & Paul Weller
English Rose (The Jam)
Out Of The Sinking
No Tears To Cry
All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)
You Do Something To Me
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
Behind Blue Eyes
Mr Rock & Roll
This Is The Life
Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Gimme Some Lovin’
I can see for Miles
Won’t Get Fooled Again
Young Man Blues
Baba O’Riley with Kelly Jones & Ronnie Wood
Without Your Love
Blue, Red and Gray