Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY – September 10, 2017

“Is it me… for a moment?”

Another night, same beautiful situation. Always good to have one “under the belt” to make it a bit easier. Less rehearsal needed, less set-up, and no travel.

This audience was slightly different. I have a feeling last night was the one of many “season ticket” holders; those who come see ANY show here, opera mainly. You could tell by their dress which ones were Who fans and which were traditional opera/theater-goers. Tonight, the second night, are those who couldn’t get in to the one before – most likely. And so I see many more T-shirts and jeans – regular rock and rollers are here tonight.

It’s audibly evident as they start singing along (NOT an opera tradition) with ‘The Real Me’. It brings up the mood right away.

I’ve notice these shows are not perfection – which you generally hear a close version of, with orchestral music. This is a lot more like The Who spirit – which is show up, play well, enjoy the night, get it done – and you’ll remember the great moments that happen from spontaneous moments and happy accident.

The charm of these vocalists is evident, each one could not be more different than the others. Alfie carries the show, and does it well, with a traditionally operatic training. Billy Idol joins in as the foil – changing that instantly to a street-level London Generation X punk approach. You can believe him when he sings about such things – and the range and notes don’t matter as much as his great style and comfort onstage. It’s infectious and has been a real surprise win for these shows. Pete is along too, sometimes on guitar, but mainly on vocals – with a more seasoned, gruff and voice of character. He is also confident to sing his words in a new context, and the audience clearly loves it.

Speaking of voices – the one thing that comes up over and over again from the people I’ve spoken to (both in the audience and production staff) is Roger Daltrey. We’re SO used to hearing this come from him, that the comparison is always there. And in a nice benefit, it’s made people realize how world-class his vocals have always been. He originated these parts, heavy on passion and muscular power. We’re all used to how he’s done it for years and years, and most recently, in our 2015 tour where he’s in his 70s and hitting the parts as hard as ever. So many people come away, hearing Alfie and the others do these bits, remembering how Roger has handled all this really well over the years – himself a world-class singer in any style.

Along those lines – we’re also noticing John’s bass lines – as these are different, you suddenly notice how significant they were to the original tracks. The rumble and growl of ‘5:15’ and ‘The Real Me’ are the backbone of those amazing classic Who tracks.

And Keith’s drumming – absent here, makes us all realize exactly what’s been said along: Keith’s not so much a basic rock drummer, as an orchestral percussionist! We have SIX of them in this orchestra, and you hear snippets of Keith, and miss him where he’s not!

Yeah, Pete’s here, the 1/4th of the QUAD, and there would be no show without. Happy to see those of you who came, we look forward to a few more days of this, before it’s back to The Real Who in South America!

Thanks again – to the superb William Snyder for his great photos seen here!

Onward…