The Who's Roger Daltrey praises courage of young cancer patients at charity gig
The Who’s Roger Daltrey has lauded the courage of young cancer patients as the rock band joined a landmark fundraising concert for a time-warping performance.
The band wound back the clock for the 100th Teenage Cancer Trust concert at the Royal Albert Hall, 17 years after Roger helped launch the event.
The concerts have raised more than £24 million for the charity since The Who topped the bill in 2000, and have attracted support from more than 250 stars from the world of entertainment, including Damon Albarn, Sir Paul McCartney and Ronnie Wood.
Speaking at the end of a breathless 120-minute set, Roger reflected on the success the charity had enjoyed in building specialist teenage cancer units before telling the crowd the “job is not done yet”.
“Before, you could wake up at 16 years old, after some dreadful chemotherapy or horrible operation where you’ve lost your leg or arm, and there’s someone here tonight who knows exactly what that feels like and it’s good to see you still here, still pushing on,” Roger said as he pointed to a crowd of patients and survivors in the crowd.
He continued: “They used to wake up and they could be next to a two-year-old. And in the bed next to that could be a five-year-old. And you can imagine the horror that could be.”
Roger said it was even worse for those over 18 who may have had to share a ward with an “old fart” like him.
“Hospitals don’t last forever, they are already pulling down some of the first ones we built 17 years ago. That’s why it is so necessary to keep supporting this charity, it’s a real good one. Thank you so much for your support.”
Thursday’s landmark gig had the band billed to perform an acoustic version of 1969 record Tommy, but instead they called on a number of the album’s big hitters, including Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, and Do You Think It’s Alright? in front of a sell-out crowd including Princess Beatrice and her mother Sarah Ferguson.
Acknowledging the change in plan, Roger said: “Sorry about the acoustics, it would have taken about four weeks of rehearsals and the charity wouldn’t have made any money, so we thought, f*** it.”
Pete Townshend interrupted his bandmate, saying: “Actually it was my fault, I couldn’t get the acoustic to sound big enough,” before adding “so I got this red thing instead” in reference to his guitar.
When he wasn’t bellowing vocals, Roger entertained the crowd with flawless microphone lassos and toyed with two tambourines so frantically that one of them broke.
Roger and Pete led the crowd through some other big hit, culminating in Baba O’Reilly and a sing-a-long to Who Are You.
Noel Gallagher provided a surprise support show and received a standing ovation for acoustic revivals of the band’s acclaimed songs including Don’t Look Back In Anger, Wonderwall, Supersonic and Half The World Away.
The concert was part of a week of performances that have included Olly Murs and Ed Sheeran, while shows with Johnny Marr and Imelda May are still to come.