“Sensation”, the touring show dedicated to the music of The Who stopped off at The Brunton in Musselburgh tonight, and gave us all a reminder of just how powerful and diverse the music of The Who has been over the years.
The band re-creating this classic sound included Peter Eldridge, Leanne Jarvis and Mitch Miller on vocals. Keeping that guitar sound of Pete Townsend was the very talented Kevin Oliver Jones. Kevin himself did nothing “flashy” on stage all throughout the show, instead just did what he is very good at – playing guitar and keeping that “Who” sound going all evening. He may not have been “flashy” but without him the show would have lost so much of its authentic sound. For show member details check out the show website at
The show takes us through all the main target points of The Who as we have the 1960s R & B/Mod years, Tommy, Quadrophenia and pretty much all the classic numbers. That obviously includes songs like “Substitute”, “Pictures of Lily”, “My Generation”, “The Kids Are Alright”, “Tommy”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, and “Who Are You” plus so many others.
“Sensation” the show captures the sound of The Who from Mod Days to Rock Stars, but it thankfully does not do it in straight tribute band style fashion but instead uses our three vocalists well throughout the two sets, and often uses all three on the one song. Peter Eldridge captures well that classic “Rock God” period of Roger Daltrey while Mitch Miller does a great job on more Mod (almost at times Britpop) sounding days (as well as covering some of the later material in style too). I mention Britpop here as the influence of The Who on that genre is so obvious when you watch a show like this. Leanne Jarvis is, however, what saves this all being “tribute band format” as it is a nice fresh twist to add female vocals to some of these songs. Some songs though such as “The Acid Queen” from Tommy seem tailor-made for Leanne’s vocals, and I am sure many in the audience tonight heard a little bit of Tina Turner in that performance.
Leanne is actually to me the person driving much of this show along, and what makes this different from just watching a tribute act for the night. If anyone on stage got the audience behind them when needed, it was Leanne.
The problem always that a show like this is going to face when covering a band with a long musical history like The Who is what to put in and what to leave out as there are just so many classic songs that have to be there to please an audience. I know from speaking to a few people at the interval that some would have liked more 60s R & B and less “Tommy” in the first half of the show, and given the average age of the audience that is understandable. I would have liked the fun little song “Boris The Spider” to be there, but as I have said, there was just so much to fit into two one hour sets. Personally, I was happy with “Tommy” as it allowed the more theatrical side of the band to be explored in a bit more depth. Of course, which Tommy do you remember? – the original studio album, maybe the live shows, the Canadian stage show, the film, or the later touring stage show...”Tommy” too like The Who has so many faces.
Despite the huge energy of everyone on stage, it did take until the second set for the audience to start to warm up and get behind everyone (maybe Tommy had something to do with that), but the second half seemed to be so much more an audience/band event and everyone on stage just seemed far more at ease with everything.
If you are looking for a straight tribute band copy on stage then this show may not be for you, but if you are looking for talented singers and musicians using the music of The Who to do something a little different on stage then this is certainly the show for you.
“Sensation” is at times a bit of an odd show – part tribute, part theatrical, and it is probably going to have to decide which of the two it really wants to be. I would like to see someone have the faith in this show to invest heavily into the theatrical development of it because that is what in the end makes this different and avoids that “tribute band” trap that a show like this can so easily fall into.
Review by Tom King