Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

CMAC Performing Arts Center: Canandaigua, New York – July 16, 2017

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This show is in a “shed” – the touring nickname for a half-covered amphitheater: The seats in the front have a metal roof, open at the sides and back. In case of rain or blazing sun, the people who paid bigger money will be covered. Behind the seats, there is a sloped lawn, open to the sky and the weather. Luckily, today is a gorgeous sunny day, no weather problems at all. They tell us there are 5000 seats and 5000 allowed on the lawn – and we are fully sold-out! We used to play a lot of these “sheds” in 2002-2006 era, but since then have not done so many, staying mainly in arenas – partly due to touring in non-summer months.

 

The front of the stage is rounded, curved out into the audience, which is non-standard. Not a huge problem, but it actually causes issues: The main P.A. System hangs near the front of the stage, and it affects where we can place our microphones so they don’t feed back; if a singer wanders too far toward the front of the stage, it can feedback strongly. Conversely, if the speakers are too far forward, it affects how the band hears the show and feels the music. Nothing can be done about the unusual curved stage, so we set up similar to the usual and get on with it. (The positioning did affect the show somewhat, but no major problems.)

 

The new opening act is London Souls a duo of just guitar and drums; quite loud, as many people in the audience noted. It’s traditional hard-rock style, sort of, and different than most of the opening acts we’ve had before.

 

The band came in early, Pete himself giving a full hour to just guitar setup and sounds, to rectify the troubles he had in Quebec. Not that it took that long, but they did indeed discover some problems that were adjusted and fixed. Then the band spent a decent amount of time rehearsing, including one older WHO song, but without good results. It probably won’t be appearing soon, but at least, they’re thinking of changes.
 
 
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Speaking of, tonight, a very nice surprise for the punters (English term for the fans…) The Quadrophenia set began with a rarely-heard classic, ‘The Punk and the Godfather.’ Such a great song to have in concert, a power chord classic – and we love hearing it. Hope it stays in…
 
 
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Our favorite photographer is here, William Snyder, a local guy from Rochester area. Just a few months back, he held an all-WHO photo exhibit (plus artifacts) from the many, many years of work with the band, onstage and behind the scenes. He plans a massive Who photo book; there are many already but his access has been unparalleled by any other photographer, so it should be a stunning work.
 
 
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Jon Button continues to please the band and crowds with his bass work. ‘My Generation’ has that famous solo, and Jon “wings it,” improvising each night with something new. His bass tone is certainly appropriate, with a bit more of the old growl of JE in the classic era – and people notice and appreciate it.
 
 
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Speaking of bass, Pete stopped at one point, noting that he could hear no bass at all: He asked Jon to play a little and felt that it seemed ok at that moment. He asked if Jon was Polish… as those polka bass players get deep into their zone and “go inside yourself”.” As Jon was not Polish, he asked if there was any Irish in him? (Nope) And then asked about various Eastern European origins? No…. (*Button, most likely an English name!) As he went through the various ethnic regions, I could hear bits of the crowd cheering their team on – many Polish and Irish in this area, traditionally.
 
 
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Before ‘I Can See For Miles’, Pete mentioned something about Jimi Hendrix, that he’d blown them away at the Monterey Pop Festival (which quite a few of the crowd disagreed loudly with…) Pete said he’d wished Jimi had lived, that it would be interesting to see what he’d be doing now. So hard to imagine.
 
 
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The crew did have one technical issue on the guitar side, and Pete requested they change out his main amp for a spare (kept right behind at the ready). While they were doing it, Pete said that he knew the change wouldn’t really DO anything: Yeah, it would sound the same, but it keeps the crew in shape! True, the change was not so obvious, but it made Pete happier, always a good thing.
 
 
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So – today we regained our feet, a solid WHO show without any major issues. A solid WHO show is certainly one of the best things you’ll see/hear all year. The venue was nice, the evening lovely weather, and the sound and lights were pretty powerful enhancements, so everyone is in a good mood now and ready for more!
 
 
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PS – we’re playing live on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon WEDNESDAY night!

Watch for it… one song on the air, one song for their website only.
 
 

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