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LIVE THE WHO: Detroit Based Rock Band Recreates The Classic UK Act At Its Manic Best

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – You heard all the cliché’s – “Ain’t Nothing Like A Detroit Party” and of course the classic – Detroit Rock City shout outs. But the truth is there really is nothing like Detroit for a rock and roll experience and that goes from the small stage to the big arenas. You can get close to your rock idols no matter if its Van Halen, Queen, Oasis, Dave Matthews or who ever. For a couple hundred bucks you can get up in the front rows on just about any venue. You certainly cannot do this at Madison Square Garden or in Chicago. If you want to literally touch the music and become one with it…. This is your place.

In a small club setting this type of experience is amplified times ten. That is exactly the kind of intimacy I was looking for when I tracked down, LIVE THE WHO at the Magic Bag. I knew a little bit about the band and that they had a the mannerisms down to a science as well as the sound.  They had a Keith Moon like drummer who looked and  played like the real thing but that isn’t what impressed me the most. LIVE THE WHO, might actually be the most ambitious out of all of the Metro Detroit rock tribute bands because of their musical range. These guys tackled some of the most complex rock operas ever recorded. This bar band actually does, “Quadrophenia” !!....  YES !!!  That Quadrophenia !!!


I caught the show at the Magic Bag, in Ferndale, Michigan and the room was fairly crowded but not overly crowded. This meant I got to go right up to the front of the stage, (remember what I said about Detroit and being able to become one with the music?). The bassist, John Entwistle character, ( I don’t know his name off hand) came out wearing the famous skeleton leather jacket like the one worn in the famous Isle of Wight concert. The Keith Moon character, (the drummer) comes out with a white t-shirt like the one worn in the Isle of Wight and Tommy performances. The lead singer comes out as Roger Daltrey and is kind of scruffy with his raggedy jeans, simple sneakers and his trademark mic that was taped at the end. Get the picture? The details were in place.

To the untrained eye this doesn’t look like much but to a WHO scholar the details revealed all of the history of the WHO. The Pete Townshend guitarist had a big number 3 on the face of his guitar like in his instrument destroying period. The bass tune up was straight off of the album, “LIVE AT LEEDS” and I knew this was going to be the real deal.

They leaped right into, “I Can’t Explain”, “Substitute”, “My Generation” and it was note per note with the singer screaming on key and whipping his mic around in a full arc.  The Pete Townshend guy was jumping around and doing all of the trademark moves from classic performances seen on the movie, “The Kids Are Alright” and, “Woodstock”. The jumps were well timed and very careful. There wasn’t too much room on that stage to do all the moves that THE WHO is famous for but these guys did it. A rock journalist once said that the WHO was it’s own best special effect.

Being in the front row put you at about as close as you can get to the experience. I thought I got close before when I saw the band perform, Quadrophenia at Joe Louis a couple of years ago when I got into the 10th row. But this time I am watching a tribute band and standing right at the edge of the stage and feeling the full energy of the band. This is as close as you can get. The guy who plays drummer Keith Moon is incredible and you cannot take your eyes off of him. He even looks like him with his facial features and the way he has his hair cut. He even grins and carries on the same way Moon used to on stage. When they excused themselves to take a break he took off his shoe and pretended he was taking a phone call. Man I got a big charge out of that. Other times he would nod or grin to the side as if he was talking to somebody…. But there was nobody there. Moon was always doing things like that and for more interesting insight as to why that is try picking up Tony Fletcher’s book, “MOON”.  Trust me, it will blow your mind.

This is no small deal – it is a full on show. This went on for a couple of hours and they did everything from, “Can You See The Real Me”, “Sea and Sand”, “5:15”, “Pinball Wizard” and more. These guys really delivered and the best part about it was being this close to the energy of THE WHO in a small club setting. That kind of experience is ultra rare. Getting this close to a real Keith Moon experience is even more rare…. Try impossible.

Other details are interesting to note like when the Pete Townshend guitarist goes into narrative explanations about what is happening in the Quadrophenia story. Pete actually had to do that when they came to America to promote the album on a tour. This was an awkward bit of history because nobody really knew what Pete was talking about. He was trying to explain the deal between mods and rockers in 1963 to a US audience. The sound system was very bad and add on top of that Pete’s British accent the whole thing came off clumsy. Yet, LIVE THE WHO actually recreated that on stage… that is the level of detail that I am talking about. Its freaking spellbinding.

Somewhere in the show they actually did, “Drowned” and, “Bellboy” which was performed note per note. The emotion is raw and it carries through in blood curdling cries, “I wanna drown !!!  In cold water !!”.  Then of course they took on, “Love Reign O’er Me” and brought it to life note per note. There is a note where singer Roger Daltrey does this loud cry like warble near the end of the song and it captures all of the hopelessness and despair of the main hero of the album – Jimmy. And these guys nailed that sound… and brought arena rock into a place that can maybe hold 400 people – if that. We’re talking about a seriously intimate setting here.


I stood at the foot of the stage near the ground speakers transfixed and mesmerized by the band. I took full audio blasts to the chest with every thump and crash of the Keith Moon drummer. Now I am going to work on getting the names of these phenomenal musicians for you in the very near future because this is one show you should not miss. Right now I just want to make you aware of the incredible musicianship of this band and the high level of rock artistry that this band is capable of.

You gotta check them out.




Now I have seen my share of tribute bands and they all have their own little moments here and there. But this band is killing it note per note and delivering a real hard rock experience. If you are into THE WHO you have to check them out.

As promised I got the names of these amazing musicians….

·         Darren Lolk as Pete Townshend

·         David James as Roger Daltrey

·         Curt Traynor as John Entwistle

·         Joe Bologna as Keith Moon

Here’s an interesting side note. I want to tell you why Keith Moon is my favorite drummer of all time. I believe that he had the same problem that Kung Fu master Bruce Lee experienced. Lee was so quick and fast with his moves that he had to slow them down just a bit so the camera could pick them up. A film camera only operates at 24 FPS, (frames per second).

Check out some of the early videos of Keith Moon playing in the WHO and you’ll see what I mean. Some of the footage in the black and white films are so grainy and blurry it is literally impossible to see where his arms are. Now for you rock and roll purists and Keith Moon fans you now have a unique opportunity to partake in that wild, crazy and manic experience.



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