A Night at the Rock Opera: “Tommy” and “∞+1”

Musician Kevin Armstrong is known for his show "Opera for the Heathens".

Kevin Armstrong is performing “A Night at the Rock Opera” Saturday

Kevin Armstrong is performing “A Night at the Rock Opera” Saturday


A night at the Rock Opera is coming to Fernie on Saturday Jan. 11, Kevin Armstrong has forged a career in both Canada and Europe, performing everything from traditional opera and musical theatre, to one-man-shows where he pairs his 4-octave vocal range with his skills as a guitarist. Armstrong’s latest project, “A Night at the Rock Opera” is amazing on two fronts: in the first half, he performs a one-man version of the classic rock opera “Tommy” by The Who.  The second half features an original piece of conceptual rock music entitled “∞+1”.  The show will be enhanced with interactive visuals, creating a spectacular listening experience. Tickets are $12 to $15 on a sliding scale. The show begins at 7:30 PM.

Armstrong grew up in the richly artistic community of Nelson, British Columbia. He started music lessons by age 10 and by college, had already studied classical, jazz and rock guitar, drums and voice. After completing a master’s degree in vocal performance at McGill University in Montreal, Armstrong moved to Zürich, Switzerland, where he did an apprenticeship at the Zürich Opera house. There he had the opportunity to perform onstage next to some of the biggest names in the opera world.

Armstrong’s show “Opera for Heathens” was a hit at numerous Fringe Festivals (Edmonton, 2011/Vancouver, 2012/Toronto, 2013), playing to sold-out houses and rave reviews.  Some of his other recent credits include the world-premiere of the opera “Khaos” with the Nelson Community Opera, the roles of Pilate and Judas in numerous productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as opera performances in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and Zürich. Armstrong also recently completed a 60-city tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland with “Night of the Musicals”, Europe’s longest-running touring musical show, as well as a recital tour of the B.C. interior with internationally renowned organist Robert Kwan.

The Who’s “Tommy,” released in 1969, was a milestone recording, virtually inventing the genre of rock opera. The story follows the titular character’s mystical experiences after losing all senses after a childhood trauma. He eventually becomes a messianic figure through his amazing pinball prowess, and he builds a hue cult following, only to eventually see it collapse from under him.

“∞+1” is a new work created by Armstrong (music/concept/lyrics), and Doug Normal (lyrics).  It tells the story of a man so desperate to lose himself in a dream world, he creates a computer powerful enough to upload his consciousness, with life-changing consequences.  It’s a concept-album in the style of Yes and Genesis and musically covers the spectrum from grandiose progressive rock, acoustic ballads, and jazz-influenced heavy metal.

“A Night at the Rock Opera” is being presented with the support of the Columbia Basin Trust and the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance and will be great opportunity to a see a world-class talent on the local stage at The Arts Station in Fernie.