September 19, 2020

1979-02-07 – The Guardian

1979 02 07 The_Guardian_Wed__Feb_7__1979_

EFIBS'VIEW: -- * '

queens .
MicHaélBillithon'

Tomrnyf‘

DESPITE the‘presence of the
phrase 9-You Lucky People."
Tommy at the Queen’s turns
out notbto be the Iife-story
‘of the. great ,Trinder but a
‘ stage version of the rock
._,muslcal, by Peter Townshend
- and.‘The Who. Hailing from

ue- Queen’s" Hornchunch. it ,"‘
gsophzstlcated... .
'Artaudes'queitheatre of pure" '

is :visually

sensation"full of sound and
furyfiubin the end signlflymg
nothing; ‘ - .
- It is safe to say that if one
hadn’t heard the LP 01: seen
the lien Russell movzeh 1t
would be virtualIy-meamng-
1ess..As it is, one con just
- about discern that Tommy.
witnessing his father’s mur-
der in a mirror, is struck
deaf. dumb and blind as.a
child. Tormented by a sadis-
tic cousin and a kinky uncle
(he is singularly unfogtunate
in his relations), he IS pro-

.jected through a series of.

attempted . .cures, becomes
world pinball champion and
regains his senses only yvhen
he is pushed through a mirror.
He declares himself the new
Messiah, is worshipped, ex-
ploited and crucified finally
achieves a redemptive free-

dom.

Whereas the Russell film
took off from a credible base
.of‘ postwar zoot-suits, council
houses and ration-boolgs, this
version plunges you Into a
fantasy world of criss-cross-
ing laser beams and Expres-
sionist towers from the start

‘But even if the story is
narcissitic nonsense and the
lyrics .could just as well be
sung 1n Serbo-Croat, I must
admit there are one or» two
moments when the production
. by Paul Tomlinson and John
- Hole makes a consmerable
visceral impact. They are not
always in the big set‘ pieces
like the Acid Queen numher
(here pure erotic kitsch With
the heroine clad in a gold
corset and a single black
thigh boot like a souped-sup
version of Margaret Lock-
wood as the Wicked Lady)
“or the Pinball sequence
(where the Wizard comes on
like a blaclc-eyed Amy John-

son).

Surprisingly the _number
that emerges best IS Sally
Simpson partly because it is
the quietest and partly because
it is staged with just_the right
sense of grotesqueme

But although there are iso-
lated moments that woi'k the
general impressmn lS _ of
human personality being
subordinated to a pounding,
incoherent energy. Allan
Love’s white-suited Tommy lS
merely the Winner of a Roger
Daltrey look-alike contest,
Anna Nicholas doubling as
the mother and the Acid
Queen is darkly sultry but
never suggests even a de.
based maternal instinct and
even a good comic 11ke Bob
Grant as the groping uncle IS

reduced to a duty Cipher.

woman ; lost in reminiscence.
She is herself, and compelling
at that. ~

In a low, rich voice, sharply
varied in pitch range, volume,
pace. pausmg as if to catch
a memory, she suggests with
total assurance. a Grande
Dame reclaiming the best of
her past and the pained re-
colllfzction of the worst as
we . -

. This glorious perfdrniance
is as natural and seemingly

spontaneous as some magni-

ficent conversation.
§

BISHOPSGATE
Hugo Cole .

Baillie
and Uys

THE CELLIST Perenyi being
111 and still in Hungary, his
place was taken at.le‘ss than
24 hours’ notice by the
cello-piano. duo. Baillie and
Uys. Having admired Alex-
ander Baillie’s playing in the
Fires of London I was glad
of the chance to hear him in a
rental, though neither the
.Bach D Major gamba sonata
nor Brahm’s F~Major could be

heard to best advantage in
this hall, where the middle
resonances of a large piano
create a barrier through
Which the cello in its most-
nsed register cannot easily
penetrate.

Baillie’s tone is not huge,
n01: do I think that he should
tram to make it larger. He
IS one .of those admirably
Clea; and sensitive Pleeth
pupils, who have almost
banished. scratch and eifort
from their playing, and would
be gomg out of his own
character if he aimed at an


nuu‘vn‘nn nnnnfim‘n 1:11-35 "n““nfi

Wednesday .Eebrnam. 7 “19,794

‘r “:

.....
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k

Allan Love ds Tommy : Queen’s

standard. I still felt that
selections from these two
composmons would have
been sufficient.

A quite separate stimulus
was prowded in the second
half of the concert in vocal
works by Robert Sexton and
David Bedford. What".does
the .song hope for ? Saxton’s
settings of two. poems by
Auden tended to .compress
so much. musical timagery
into. the instrumental; accom-
paniment that the vocal part
(taken by the soprafio Karen
Jensen) hardly registered
until near the end, where a
taped vocal ingg'edient- also
appeared. My impres'sionhere
was of a piece whose .flow-
ing style-resulted in linear
congestion rather.than claljity
of outline,;thouglr..its feahsa~

tion may‘ ‘not thaveu been

exemplary. - 1.
David Bedford’s vAQDream

of Lost Stars xcertalnly

sounded vocallyinsecnre. But
this is so accomplishe’d‘gin its
handling of a~_ .‘text. by
Kenneth Patchem that no
shortcomings in the :; ‘fierfor-
ance could stand in ,its; way.

RFH/RADIO 3 ’.
Edward Greenfield,

Elgar Eestii/al

IF ANYONE '.‘thought" that
Sea Pictures wo'uld’j-See‘fp like
a poor relation ambng the
rich and . confident- .master—
pieces being - .‘ presented in
the Philharmonia 'Or'chestra’s
Elgar Festival. here was a
performance to ,1 estahlish it
as one of the ‘vgreat. 'gi'chest-
ral song cyclesL'm"; j 3‘42’5:
When at the'.l,stvminute
Alfreda Hodgson was; ill, the
Philharmonia 'orgehisé'rs' 'had
the great good .fortune to find
that Dame AJanet- Baltenwas