TCT is a British non-profit (one of those “registered charities” Paul McCartney sang about in “Band on the Run”) to improve the lives of young people in cancer hospitals. Once a year, a star-studded benefit concert is organized to support the charity, and the organization’s high-profile spokesperson is Roger Daltrey of The Who.
But you’d never know most of this from viewing TCT: Concerts for Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall. Except for some flashes of the TCT logo and the event logo (a hybrid of the Royal Albert Hall, a snare drum on a stand, and what looks like frayed wires or brain synapses), there’s little mention of the organization. Which, if you’re here for the music, is fine.
The Who kick things off with an excellent rendition of “The Seeker.” They do this one at al ltheir shows these days, and this song is on any number of other videos, but it’s still great to see Daltrey and Pete Townshend (plus Zak Starkey, “Rabbit” Bundrick, Pino Palladino and Simon Townshend) rocking out. Things get interesting with a solo outing from Oasis’ Noel Gallagher (“Don’t Look Back in Anger”) on acoustic guitar and backed with an electric guitarist, percussionist and string section. His performance suggests he really doesn’t need brother Liam for much. Next up, he’s joined by Paul Weller for a song the pair co-wrote. It’s excellent, melding both their styles.
The video dispenses with spoken intros for the most part, and is a largely context-free viewing experience. The performances are culled from multiple nights (one has to read the fast-scrolling credits to learn that the concerts took place in 2006 and 2007) and the sequencing on video may have nothing to do with the actual performance sequence. But it’s effective nonetheless.
A string of UK bands — some, like The Cure are well-known; some are less familiar to US audiences — each get one song. For anyone who likes The Who and Oasis, not one of theses other bands turns in a weak performance. The Coral, Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight (joined by Roger Daltrey) and A Band of Bees all turn in winning numbers. The inclusion of Judas Priest is a bit odd, but entertaining in its own bizarre way.
The video wraps up with the obligatory return of The Who for “Baba O’Riley” and the newer tune “Tea and Theatre.” The latter isn’t among their strongest efforts, but it’s a welcome reminder that Townshend is still writing.
Overall, it should be noted, the audio and video quality are stunning.
The choice of bonus material is quite odd. It’s the “A” part of a mid-90s “Q&A” with Pete Townshend, in which he answers all manner of questions. The editing is a bit strange, and the voiced questions are replaced by onscreen questions that don’t always match up to the answers. But there’s no such thing as an uninteresting Pete Townshend interview; many years ago Rolling Stone famously dubbed him “the thinking man’s rock musician / rock music’s thinking man,” and that description holds true today. His reminiscences and opinions are always illuminating. The inclusion of this interview has not one thing to do with TCT or the 21st century, but it’s essential viewing for anyone who appreciates Pete.
The TCT video isn’t perhaps essential viewing, but it’s quite entertaining and worthwhile. And since the proceeds benefit a good cause, it’s a recommended purchase.