Closing a week of incredible shows last night was Ovation - A Celebration of 24 Years of gigs for Teenage Cancer Trust, a show featuring Roger Daltrey’s friends and fans, many of those who helped establish these gigs as a celebrated annual event: Roger himself, alongside Kelly Jones, Robert Plant with Saving Grace, Eddie Vedder and Paul Weller.

Last night’s show was part of a momentous week, celebrating the work of rock legend Roger Daltrey, founder and curator of the Teenage Cancer Trust gigs, as he bows out as the driving force of these very special concerts.

He introduced tonight’s show by thanking everyone who has helped stage the gigs in the past 24 years, “Ovation is for all the people who’ve been there for me unconditionally whenever I’ve asked them to do something for Teenage Cancer Trust. The backstage crews, people that make the whole thing possible.”

A national treasure of the British music scene, Paul Weller has performed on the Teenage Cancer Trust stage many times, including the historic first ever show in 2000. He began the evening with ‘Gravity’, (dedicated to his daughter in the audience). The man of the moment, Roger Daltrey, joined him on stage for The Who’s ‘So Sad About Us’, a song from the band’s second album famously covered by The Jam in 1978, before receiving his own ovation on finishing with The Jam classic ‘That’s Entertainment’.

Another Teenage Cancer Trust gig alumnus at that iconic debut show 24 years ago, Kelly Jones was back to celebrate. Poignantly, Kelly opened with Stereophonics single, ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’, explaining, “it’s a song about a teenager who didn’t make it when I was a kid. I wrote this when I was a teenager and it was our first single.”

He paid tribute to his fellow artists on the bill - he ran away from home for a day with a cassette of ‘Ten’ by Pearl Jam, air guitared Led Zeppelin II to death and Paul Weller took him shopping on the tube for his wedding suit (“I went underground with Paul Weller!”). He also gave us ‘You’re My Star’ which he wrote about “my own cancer story with my own kid”, before finishing with the crowd singing their hearts out to ‘Dakota’.

Eddie Vedder left the stage to standing ovation after a searing set, starting with ‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town’ and ‘Far Behind’ before being joined by Simon Townshend for the latter’s ‘She Asked Me’. He then welcomed The Frames’ frontman Glen Hansard to the stage to share ‘Society’, then ‘My Father’s Daughter’ with his own daughter, Olivia Vedder on vocals. Visibly as moved as the audience, Eddie and Glen moved through The Frames’ ‘Falling Slowly’ before Eddie ended with an intense, solo acoustic rendition of Pearl Jam’s ‘Porch’ to bring the Royal Albert Hall to its feet.

Robert Plant and Saving Grace provided another showstopper. Robert and fellow vocalist Suzi Dian melded beautifully on a unique mix of roots, folk, blues with Middle Eastern influences and surprising covers. ‘Everybody’s Song’ was a reworking of the band Low’s original, Los Lobos’ ‘Angel Dance’ saw Dian on accordion, harmonising perfectly with Plant. Most famous as Led Zeppelin’s vocalist he brought tenderness to their ‘Friends’ and then the whole band gathered around one microphone for ‘I Bid You Goodnight’, a traditional gospel lament to the lost, here suffused with joy and goodwill.

Roger Daltrey of course closed the show, with his band. They opened with Pete Townshend’s solo hit ‘Let My Love Open The Door’, onto The Who’s ‘Squeeze Box’ and then ‘Giving It All Away’ Roger’s debut solo single. An 8 piece outfit, acoustic led, it was an emotive performance, fine musicians with Roger in incredible voice to see out his tenure as curator of these amazing concerts. By the time they finished with The Who classic ‘Baba O’Riley’, the band were joined by Eddie Vedder, Robert Plant, Kelly Jones and Glen Hansard to help sing the great man out, along with Teenage Cancer Trust patients.

“I’m not going away from the Teenage Cancer Trust,” promised Roger finally, “I’ve completed the job I set out to do. We’re going to get curators to do each year, rather than try and do another twenty!.. Talk about nerve-wracking.“

The Who singer, who will continue as a Teenage Cancer Trust Honorary Patron, has tirelessly fundraised and advocated for the charity for nearly a quarter of a century. A key part of this has been Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall, the now iconic, annual concert series taking place at one of the world’s most prestigious concert venues.

For 22 editions, Roger Daltrey has persuaded some of the greatest artists on the planet to perform unique, one night only gigs to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust, generating over £32 million from ticket sales alone and spreading word of this extraordinary charity far and wide. That money is enough to pay for over a million hours of specialist care from Teenage Cancer Trust nurses, or 13 Teenage Cancer Trust hospital units. In 2000, when the gigs began, Teenage Cancer Trust was a much smaller organisation with only 5 hospital units across the whole of the UK and far fewer nurses and youth support workers.

Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to providing specialised nursing care and support for young people with cancer. Since 2000, over £32 million has been raised by Teenage Cancer Trust concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, and that money has helped fund specialist nurses, hospital units and support services right across the UK that help get young people through some unimaginably hard times.

Roger Daltrey CBE, Teenage Cancer Trust Honorary Patron, and mastermind behind the gigs for 24 years, said:
“The generosity of the people who work in the music and comedy industries never ceases to amaze me. In this, our 21st year, after two years of artists having no shows at all, at a time where the only certain paydays are from live performances, artists are willing to give up their earnings from a London show. It shows us that miracles are everywhere, but if you cough or sneeze you'd miss them!”

Katie Collins, Chief Executive, Teenage Cancer Trust, said:
“These amazing gigs and their fantastic lineups help us change lives. Because of Roger, the artists, the teams who make these gigs possible and everyone who buys a ticket, we can make sure young people don’t face cancer alone and continue to provide the vital, expert care and support that is crucial for young people with cancer.”

2024 Show Dates:
Mon 18 March - The Who with Orchestra, with special guests Squeeze
Tue 19 March - A Night Of Comedy - Kevin Bridges (host), Rob Beckett, Paul Chowdhry, Joe Lycett, Joanne McNally, Seann Walsh
Weds 20 March - The Who with Orchestra, with special guests Squeeze
Thurs 21 March - Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, with special guests Blossoms
Fri 22 March - Young Fathers plus special guests
Sat 23 March - The Chemical Brothers
Sun 24 March - ‘Ovation’ - A Celebration of 24 Years of Gigs For Teenage Cancer Trust with: Roger Daltrey, Kelly Jones, Robert Plant with Saving Grace, Eddie Vedder, Paul Weller

Photo credit: John Stead