Tommy/Malvern Theatres

PICK up my guitar and play, just like yesterday… tunesmith Pete Townsend’s famous exhortation undoubtedly strikes a chord with aging baby boomers everywhere, no doubt relieved that they did in fact live to grow old after all.

Any band that sets its sights on reproducing one of the most iconic records in rock history needs to feel pretty confident that the musical mustard can indeed be cut.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Who’s best known concept album. And the band’s two surviving members can be certain of one thing… their great creation is safe in the hands of The Goldhawks, a world-class eight-piece outfit that reproduces the music with skill and reverence.

Fronted by vocalist Doug Freeman, the Goldhawks are note-for-note perfect as they perform the songs sequentially, thereby taking us on a musical adventure that charts the deaf, dumb and blind boy’s journey along a path strewn with obstacles.

Amazing Journey, The Hawker, The Acid Queen, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Pinball Wizard… one by one, this narrative of numbers will eventually take young Tommy Walker to a place of peace and contentment.

The Who’s Pete Townsend is reputed to have toyed with the idea of a rock opera as early as 1966, but it was the teachings of guru Meher Babar that finally sent him on his spiritual pilgrim’s progress.

And The Goldhawks most certainly do not let him down. Every nuance of the Townsend style is revealed, like the uncorking of some exotic wine from a dust-covered bottle that has lain in the corner of a cellar for decades.

Suspended chords ring like cathedral bells, majors crash into your senses like waves breaking on a rock-littered beach… you can even hear John Lee Hooker’s trademark hammer-ons, all testament to one of the greatest guitar players from the golden age of rock.

Finally, we take our leave of Tommy, and cruise through some of the former High Numbers’ back numbers. And then comes the one that all those of us heartily sick of the politicians have been waiting for… Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Oh yes. Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday… it looks like the Who still speak for my generation, only this time it was courtesy of the fabulous Goldhawks.

John Phillpott