Rock opera Tommy for their generation

Middlesex University students have teamed up with The Who’s Roger Daltrey for his performance of rock opera Tommy at the Royal Albert Hall this week.

Huge LED screens set up at the venue will stream cutting edge work from the university’s art, design and computing students on March 24 as the Who front-man performs Tommy in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The link with the rock legend came through Middlesex’s Creative Director in Residence Colin Payne.

Payne said: “Last year we worked closely with Rob Lee (editor- developing a new Middlesex University course which is really unique – combining technology and the arts – and out of this work he had an inspired idea to propose a collaboration with the band.

“Daltrey agreed and suggested that our students create new visuals for a gig at the Royal Albert Hall where he planned to revive The Who’s “Tommy” it suddenly became an epic and amazingly real challenge.”

Payne brought together students from across the university, helping them to collaborate using social media, downloading and discussing their ideas on a dedicated Facebook page.

The Who’s lead singer said he was impressed by how the students applied the themes of Tommy to their world.

“The genius of Pete Townshend (The Who’s guitarist who wrote Tommy) is that his work, like that of all great artists, is timeless,” said Daltry.

“The students have been able to get rid of the stereotype images of Tommy that we all know and love and come up with their own fresh interpretation. What’s really exciting is to see these guys use the medium of Tommy to talk about their generation”.

Colin Payne said the students jumped at the chance to work with a music legend:  “They all got fired up about doing something for Teenage Cancer Trust and working with a legendary performer like Roger Daltrey on such an iconic piece as ‘Tommy’.”

Birds on tank, by Ahmed Karrar

Third year Information Technology and Networking student Ahmed Karrar said:  “This project was a real pleasure.  To have a rock icon like Roger Daltrey agree to let us interpret the Tommy album the way we wanted was awesome.

“Collaboration through Facebook was really effective. I am not a heavy Facebook user but the dedicated Tommy page setup let everyone share and access their own and others’ ideas very easily.  The notification system allowed us all to keep abreast of the latest updates and ideas.”

Karrar created more than six minutes of animation for the opening tracks of the rock opera, Overture and It’s a Boy.

He said: “It was based on ideas that came to me after listening to the Tommy album, Tommy’s condition of being a ‘deaf, dumb and blind kid’ I felt relates to all of us today: no matter where you are in the world it seems that no one is listening to each other, seeing what is happening or saying what needs to be said.”


  1. hemmes.eric says:

    Het was een top voor mij in de tijd dat de plaat uit gebracht werd, helaas kwijt geraakt door brand, maar de muziek leeft nog steeds in mij. Come in my house, you no? en I am a chipsy.

  2. John VanderEyk says:

    What an awesome idea. Is there any chance this would be recorded and available on DVD? This would be a great addition to any Who fans collection.

  3. Caden Logan says:

    What is the title of the dedicated facebook page? I would like to get a look at some of the student’s work. Haven’t been able to find it. Thanks.

  4. Re: Caden Logan

    Sorry but the Facebook group is a Closed Group at the moment, hopefully they will make a DVD !

  5. College kids nowadays don’t have a clue, so it’ll be interesting to see their interpretations of this masterpiece. I can hear them now… “Ya, like, basically, it’s an album about this, like, boy who goes, ‘See me, feel me.’ And I, like, totally forgot the name of that band, but they’re so awesome. My mom told me they’ve been around for, like, 80 years.”

  6. Jonathan says:

    DAVE! Im 16 and im heading for the concert tonight the who are my favourite band so in behalf of all us ‘kids’ SHAAAAAT YA MAAAATTTT

  7. Dave, I agree with Jonathan. If you just read what Karrar talked about at the end of this article, it should be something amazing. While The Who are clearly my favorite band, it might be even more interesting for kids that know little of them to interprete this music so they don’t have a preconceived notion of what might be expected of them. Once they are done with this project, I would love to have them move onto my favorite – Quadrophenia!

  8. I’m 17 and The Who is my favorite band as well. I agree with the fact that most kids nowadays don’t have a clue when it comes to good music which is why I think this is a really cool idea that they put together. It benefits the Teenager Cancer Trust and those kids who don’t know about The Who got to learn about it.

  9. hemmes.eric says:

    Kennen jullie uncle Arnie ook, Fiedel about.

  10. chris offer says:

    record a concert and put it on dvd also the recent quadrophenia shows

  11. I am one of the Middlesex Students who participated in this project for the Who live show at the Royal Albert Hall. I am 20 years old and knew about the Who ever since I was about 5 years old. There are some people who may not be as familiar with the Who as others in the group, but it doesn’t mean that they will talk “lyk dis n dat” when being inspired by the album and presenting their ideas prior to the show. We all took this opportunity in a professional manner and worked very hard to produce a show that will not only impress the audience, but also live up to the Legend, Roger Daltrey’s expectations. It was an honor for us to receive this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are grateful so.. Thank you!! 🙂

    P.S. I hope everyone enjoyed the show last night and that you liked the animations!!!

  12. Karrar is absolutely F…… right. We are all running around like a bunch of Tommys.
    created by the establishment of corruption! Were is Truth? Without it you know what you get {DEAF DUMB AND BLIND]

  13. YES! Im digging the quadrophenia idea, favourite album of all time, missed it last year at tct due to exams 🙁 But deffo will pay 100’s to see it x

  14. Hello friends of ‘Tho Who’s’ Tommy rock opera!

    This is in fact a great rock musical containing a few of the best rock balads ever.
    Who ever missed this event will have the chance to see it live in Germany in August 2011 this year.
    Over 50 semi-professional actors (age 8-50), great singers with unforgetable & amazing ‘goosebumbs voices’, 8 extremely talented and (in our area) well known musicians with perfect guitar/bass/drums fill inns made this event as one of the biggest rock weekends in 2010.
    With some pressure of our local press, hundreds and hundrets of mails and reports from fans and other bands, but also last but not least the hard and consistent work of Karsten (one of the leader of this project) leads us to the opportunity to enjoy this Tommy rock opera once more again this year!
    They will be life on stage for us on 17th, 19th and 21st of August 2011
    Please view also this web site :

    For any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact my by email.

  15. Pardon Dave. Some of us older folks have yet to realize that the generation gap we knew is no more, and that most of our MP3 players have multi-generational playlists.

  16. tom masen says:

    i would like to see a list of songs that are on the tommy soundtrack please .

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