Sunday, April 22, 2018

"Keith Moon: Who I Am" ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

“Keith Moon: Who I Am” is a solo show written and performed by Mick Berry, a San Francisco drummer and performer, about the life of the legendary drummer of the British band The Who. Dissolute, self-destructive, addicted to everything and dead at 32, Moon is a legend not only because of his behaviors but also because no one has ever played the drums quite like him. 

The stage set is one drum kit and an overhead camera so people in the audience can watch Mick Berry’s hands and feet as he plays. He tells Moon’s story at the same time, and he does it with flair and excitement. It’s a terrific show. 

We are not accustomed to drummers talking. We’re used to drummers drumming, forming the musical foundation on which the band is built. But several excellent segments of Berry’s show are his monologues in front of the drums, where he talks about Keith Moon growing up, like the rest of his bandmates, in working class England. A wonderful set piece comes when the young Keith meets his first (and only) drum teacher. Here, we see lessons taught and lessons learned.

Mick Berry has used a cover band in the past. Here in Redwood City he chose to try performing the show using taped The Who songs instead. It doesn't work very well. Berry is a drum instructor as well as a performer, so he knows the most important thing a drummer can do is keep a steady and solid beat. The worst thing he can do is speed up and slow down during a song. The live Mick Berry may be solid; the Mick Berry trying to perform to prerecorded tracks is rather conspicuously out of sync, even when those tracks are practically inaudible to the audience. It doesn't work.

This is the show’s only flaw. We loved everything else about “Keith Moon”  — the writing, performing, and Mick Berry’s musicianship are first rate. Keith Moon left a legacy for rock and roll to digest and Mick Berry has memorialized him beautifully. 


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Department grants “Keith Moon: Who I Am” Three Stars with a Bangle of Praise. We love the hubris of a drummer trying to perform a stage show while sitting behind a drum kit playing his rear end off. Mick Berry is a terrific stage presence. With a crackerjack live band, this show could be performed for years.

"Keith Moon: Who I Am"
The Dragon Theater
2120 Broadway, Redwood City
Through April 22

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