Review - Tommy at the Hippodrome Theatre,

Birmingham, until Saturday.

PULSATING and powerful. A rock opera that has lost none of its magic or appeal in the 36 years since it was originally devised and recorded by one of my favourite groups, The Who.

Tommy led the way all those years ago and others of the genre have followed, but few can hold a candle to this original.

The tale of the deaf, dumb and blind kid whose early and disastrous life reaches the pinnacle of fame on a pinball machine is a roller-coaster ride through the ups and downs of several decades of London life - from the war-torn 1940s, through the 50s and 60s and the beginnings of the pop music we are now familiar with.

The music is The Who at their best.... Originally Tommy was an album - penned by Pete Townshend, with additional music and lyrics from fellow band members John Entwistle and the late Keith Moon. It became a film in the mid-1970s, and then some 20 years later a highly successful stage musical.

And how that music is belted out by a band we can watch and appreciate because they're on stage and not in the orchestra pit. I'm Free; See Me, Feel Me and and a string of others had the whole theatre vibrating - especially with the show's anthem, Pinball Wizard.

The cast is sheer vibrancy and enthusiasm - superbly led by the talented Jonathan Wilkes. It's all as infectious as the music and by the end the audience is on its feet voicing approval and clamouring for more.

Tommy, can you hear me? You're as sensational as ever and it's a theatrical must as it heads out on national tour from this coming weekend. AW