The Who Show will bring ‘Tommy’ to Park City
December 26, 2014
When many people think of classic albums by The Who, "Tommy" is near or at the top.
Released in May 1969, the album, the band’s fourth, is a rock-opera, about a boy named Tommy Walker who rises to Messiah-like stature, before his followers turn on him.
The album was the basis of an orchestral opera in 1972 and a film directed by Ken Russell in 1975. It was then turned into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical in 1992.
France DiCarlo, drummer for a tribute band called The Who Show, said his band is looking forward to performing "Tommy" in its entirety at the Egyptian Theatre next week.
"’Tommy’ is a great story and it relates a lot to people’s lives," DiCarlo said during a telephone interview with The Park Record from his home in Los Angeles, California. "We’re playing the album live in its entirety, and I mean The Who’s album, ‘Tommy,’ not the watered-down Broadway musical version."
DiCarlo said the songs on the album, which were mostly written by Pete Townshend, are works of art.
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"It’s really wild because every song sounds different," DiCarlo explained. "It’s not like other albums when you get on or two popular tunes, but then all the other songs sound the same.
"You get on this amazing journey," he said. "I mean there is no altering all those vibrations that get into your senses when you experience it. You’ve heard these songs many times on the radio, which makes them close to your heart."
The Who Show was named the "most believable Who tribute show in the world" by VH1, and the musicians take on the roles of their real-life counterparts, according to DiCarlo.
He plays drummer Keith Moon. Chris Propper portays guitarist Pete Townshend, Stephen Shareaux is lead singer Roger Daltrey and Jim Kennelly straps on the bass as John Entwistle.
Taking on the role of Keith Moon was a natural fit for DiCarlo and he likes how the songs from "Tommy" flow.
"As Keith Moon there aren’t really any challenging songs to play on this album," he said. "However, ‘Christmas’ and ‘Go to the Mirror’ basically have non-stop drum rolls and soloing. But since I’ve been listening to this music my whole life, all the licks are imbedded into me."
When The Who Show performs "Tommy," the band members will take on the different roles that were designated in the rock-opera.
"Chris will sing Pete Townshend’s parts and Keith Moon — me — has a little part as Uncle Ernie, and Stephen as Roger will keep pushing away with his Tommy role, complete with full, nonstop backing vocals," DiCarlo said. "It’s pretty cool."
Although DiCarlo doesn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics when he’s playing the songs, he appreciates the story.
"Tommy’s dad, Captain Walker, is a pilot in the war and he crashes and is presumed dead," DiCarlo said. "Tommy is born right after that and then, a few years later, the Captain comes back into the picture, but his is kind of a madman."
Consequently, Tommy can’t handle drastic change of events and escapes into his mind and becomes deaf, dumb and blind.
"This is when he embarks on this amazing journey," DiCarlo said. "He becomes the Pinball Wizard. You know, if the story’s setting was today, he would have become a PlayStation 4 Wizard and he would have been playing ‘Call of Duty.’"
In addition, to the music, "Tommy" will feature multimedia elements that will highlight the story.
"We have a great light technician at the Egyptian Theatre, and that makes it all the more sweet," DiCarlo said. "To be able to play it live and capture the whole story is a great accomplishment for us."
DiCarlo got into "Tommy" through the backdoor, he said.
"I remember the first time the album was released," DiCarlo said. "It came out before I was into The Who."
He heard the album’s trademark track, "Pinball Wizard," on an AM radio in his mother’s car.
"I heard the song on this one little speaker in this beat-up Dodge and it just grabbed me and stuck into my mind,’ DiCarlo said. "Remember, this was AM radio, before there was FM radio, and the song just blew my mind."
It was still three years before DiCarlo really got into the band.
"That’s when their album ‘Who’s Next’ came out and that’s what did it for me," he said. "So I went back to ‘Tommy’ after that."
DiCarlo’s interest in the drums developed when his older brother formed a band.
"They would rehearse in the living room, but the drummer had another practice set that was up in my room and I would see him play." DiCarlo said. "That got into my blood."
The drummer can’t wait to bring the show to Park City.
"We’re ready to play five days of ‘Tommy’ and it’s going to be pretty cool," he said. "If you’re a Who fan or into ‘Tommy’ and are in the area, you would be crazy not to come up to Park City and see the show."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present The Who Show’s "Tommy" from Tuesday, Dec. 30, through Saturday, Jan. 3. The performances will begin at 8 p.m. "Tommy" is the critically acclaimed 1969 concept album by The Who and The Who Show will perform the album in its entirety. Tickets range from $29 to $50 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com..
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