Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Entertainment: The Who's Tommy

This song has been going through my head lately:

(see UPDATE below)

It's the British rock group The Who performing "Overture" from the rock opera Tommy. It's actually not a particularly good performance (this one sounds better, for instance - Pete Townsend's guitar playing is almost letter-perfect), but it's a good look at what a Who concert was like back then. It's from the 1970s, when The Who were hip, young, and, well, breathing. I think Keith Moon was gone five years after this concert. John Entwistle lasted much longer, but he's gone now, too.

In fact, Tommy is so old, it's now a musical, and two amateur theatres in the Puget Sound region will be putting it on in the next few months.

What has always amazed me about The Who's live performances of Tommy is that it was usually just the four of them playing and singing. If the theatres showing The Who's Tommy in our area follow the usual practice, they'll be performing in similar numbers. If they play this well, I'd say they'll be doing as much as can be expected of them.

Tommy is a story about personal enlightenment and the way that organized religions can sometimes get in the way of that process. In perhaps the most revealing lines in the song "I'm Free", once Tommy is finally freed of his handicaps, he says:
If I told you what it takes to reach the highest high,
You'd laugh and say nothing's that simple.
But you've been shown many times before,
Messiahs pointed to the door,
and no one had the guts to leave the temple.
Life, he was saying, is best understood by living it, not trying to find out what the rules were for happiness or enlightenment. As his own following grows, Tommy forgets this, and eventually his followers go elsewhere looking for "enlightenment".

Burien Little Theatre be showing it February 17 through March 25.

Centerstage, in Federal Way, will pick up the silver ball, and show their own production of it May 4 through May 27.

Check those links for showtimes and possible schedule changes.

If you live in this region, and you don't see it, you just aren't trying very hard. Treat yourself to one of the best works of popular music to come out of the 1960s.

UPDATE: I think from now on, when this message appears in a post I do about a show that was over forty years ago, I will just leave that graphic up with no link to the greedy asshats who think that they should make more money from something that was made by people who are now dead, and thus cost them next to nothing to put on the Internet. Whoever WMG is, they can kiss my furry butt.

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