Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Estadio Monumental, Santiago, Chile – September 30, 2017

We’re back with Guns N Roses again, another big stadium event. This ones a bit trickier as things are crowded for space, not like Rock In Rio. Overall the day is a grey one, and just more work than usual. Yet, we’re paid for The Show to go on, and it will. We were supposed to play the big Estadio Nacionale (National Stadium) but were moved over to this older futbol stadium instead..

When we arrived, we’d found Guns people had installed a “thrust” stage, a part of the large main stage that sticks out into the audience area. On a longer version, it’s developed the nickname “ego ramp” in the industry, but this is much shorter. In fact, it’s only a platform to hold something that Axl Rose will surprise the audience with at some point. The only issue is, we’re used to working from a flat front stage, and Roger’s close proximity to the crowd gives him many great moments to connect to the audience during the show. This makes it very far to anyone in the crowd, not ideal . . .

We’re worried, too, as the sight lines prevent many people from seeing the stage, as this jutting-out platform blocks the view of the drums and most of the musicians. However, there’s nothing we can do about it; it’s their stage, their show. We hope for the best, knowing that Roger really would prefer it not be there. He cannot hear as well away from the instruments and always relies on a few floor-based monitor speakers to hear himself (in addition to the “in ear” monitors that he can run around with.) We’ll see how it goes . . .

We have an early start time tonight, which feels quite odd, but the headliners have a long show and there is a curfew. A lot of people came tonight, not as GnR fans, but Who fans. Yes, they are currently more popular, but GnR have done several tours here; this is still The Who’s first!

Our crowd is interesting. Of course, rather young and everyone is broken into seating/standing sections. The front half of the field is fairly packed, but the back half (likely much cheaper tickets) was rammed full of people! And when The Who came out, they started moving and jumping together – a huge sea of faces and arms. Up in the bleachers of the stadium it’s really full, too – although this crowd likes to sit. Fair enough, it’s been a rather grey day. Everywhere I see smiles – these are truly happy people. As with most cities we’ve seen on this trip, there are reminders everywhere that things are not always so safe here, but many people live healthy, positive lives here and celebrate in great moments like this. The first Who appearance in Chile ever – so it was meaningful on both sides.

Our set starts well, in fact, as good as could be hoped. The whole floor audience seemed to jump up and down all at once. In the rear half of the floor, those crowded people went insane. It tapered off, as no one can match that energy all the way through a show. Roger came out prowling and Pete danced around with his guitars. Roger’s comfortable vibe “out front” has been known for some time, but this extension took him really far out front, detached from the sound and feel of the band. It seemed he wanted to still be close – hard as it was, and so spent a lot of time going back and forth.

Intrigued, Pete seemed to try it too, going in front as far as his cable/lead would allow him. I’m sure they helped the show, because, despite the cameras and screens, there are thousands “down front” that really could not see much of the high stage. Still, the antics onstage were large, and easily seen from anywhere in the building – the video crew only help out a band that needs no help!

‘The Seeker’ was added back into the shows, which was missing before. I know Guns N Roses played it last time late in their set, a nice salute to The Who that they put it into their set. (The band Rush also used to play it as one of the few covers they would ever do.)

Again, a festival, and not headlining, so we played the 90-minute version of our concert. It felt exactly right. There seemed to be less interplay with the band; although we set up the same distances from each musician every show, this spacious stadium seemed to suck away much of the sound, and the playing was good but not intimate. Still, The Who’s music is perfect for an audience in a big place, and although many people certain came for GnR, there were tens of thousands going crazy for The ‘Oo at this one, especially that back section of the floor!

This was a very grey day, and most of our set was in daylight hours, so we had the same “look” from song to song – not the best, but you do what you can. Finally, the sun set behind the stadium walls and clouds, and we got to use a bit of our lights. That helped. When the big ‘Baba’ kicked off, someone in the crowd lit a flare and started waving it, with clouds of smoke billowing up as well. We have not seen that since Glastonbury. It always adds excitement, and looks a bit like a war or disaster zone. I pity the people behind who can’t see with all the smoke, but it’s a temporary thing, and they were probably excited anyway. Same for ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ – another flare!

The show ended with the two big ones this way – no encores. Much better that way it seems. Big finish – and go! This was, of course, a good night, with many fans (and maybe some new ones) enjoying themselves. It’s always hard to follow an extreme one as the night before, but we did well. This band is in fine form, and we’re nearing the end of a long two-plus year run…

Every show has its ups and downs, but this was indeed a strange one. We had very little room to set up offstage, (and less getting out while GnR played) and the loading in and out was much more trouble than usual. Our clever local team had built a ramp of plywood up the back steps so we could haul our cases out while GnR played, but it required a winch to mechanically pull up the heavy cases. You do what you have to do!

Onward!

SETLIST
I Can’t Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See for Miles
My Generation (with ‘Cry If You Want’ coda)
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
I’m One
Love, Reign O’er Me
Amazing Journey / Overture
Sparks
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again