Mick Berry goes full Moon in tribute to Who drummer

Keith Moon 1
Mick Berry is Keith Moon, the late drummer for the Who in Keith Moon: The Real Me at the Eureka Theatre. Photo by Rick Markovich

For anyone who can’t get enough of rock ‘n’ roll drumming or the Who, have I got a show for you.

San Francisco performer/author Mick Berry has spent the last decade preparing to play Keith Moon, the notorious drummer for the Who – a rock ‘n’ roll icon who made bad behavior de rigeur for rock stars: trashed hotel rooms, TVs out of windows, massive drug problems, astronomical bar bills, flagrant spending – you know the drill. Every episode of VH-1’s “Behind the Music” owes a debt to “Moon the Loon” for establishing an oft-repeated pattern.

But Berry’s show, a unique spin on the one-man biographical show idea, wants to go deeper. He wants to give us the Moon we know and then show us Moon the man, who felt intense pressure to live up to his destructive reputation. That’s ultimately what killed him in 1978 at age 32.

Berry plays all the parts and, most impressively, he plays the drums like a mad man. Rock ‘n’ roll drummers – so essential to the band – are usually relegated to the back of the stage. But for Berry’s show, the drummer is front and center. The other three band members – Jef Labes, Ric Wilson and Jesse Scott on opening night – are obscured behind scrims. This is a drummer front-and-center show.

And as I said before, that should make fans of drumming and the Who very happy. Moon and his band (under the music direction of Frank Simes, who is actually a music director for the Who) perform a handful of Who songs, including “I Can See for Miles,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “I Can’t Explain.”

I had the pleasure of talking to Berry about his fascination with drumming and the Who, both of which stretch back to his teenage years. Read the story in the San Francisco Chronicle here.

Here’s my favorite quote from the story as Berry discusses the Keith Moon behind the bad-boy reputation:

He’s known as the wildest man in rock ‘n’ roll, but what people don’t know about Keith is that he was an incredibly generous, kind man. His wild reputation is what did him in. It became his identity and became larger than him. He felt obligated to live up to it.

Mick Berry’s Keith Moon: The Real Me continues at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., San Francisco. Tickets are $40. Call 800-838-3006 or visit www.keithmoontherealme.com.