Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Rehearsals at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida – October 29, 2017

We are here in Clearwater, Florida. Roger played here before, I believe the very last show of his tour in 2009, the Use It or Lose It tour. We remember it pretty well, this venue, the Ruth Eckerd Hall. One of the things you’ll only find in Florida – a small lake/creek outside that houses a local alligator!

Nearly everyone in Roger’s band is now familiar from The Who: Simon Townshend (of course), Frank Simes, Loren Gold, Jon Button, and (returning on drums and percussion) Scott Devours – who spent some time filling in for Zak in The Who. So why rehearse for a few days before the shows?

Well, it’s not a Who show; although Roger does a lot of those classics that are found in a Who show. But he also likes to mix it up, and so we do some of his solo material, a few covers, and some of the more rare Who songs – like Live At Leeds material. Roger and this band have done quite a few shows together before, so it would be easy just to roll in, do a day of setup/rehearsal, and then play the night after. But Roger is hoping to wake everyone up, surprise a few fans, and so he has brought nearly a dozen different songs to learn!

Not that they’ll all make it into this first show: He’s even got a new song which is damn good, and we can’t wait for people to hear it.

And work we do: The band puts in three long days of work, to the point of fatigue. Still, lots was accomplished, variations tried on the new and old, and a basic set list was hammered out for the first show – coming on Monday night. It’s OK to announce that Roger has pulled out a few Who things that have never been played onstage. At least one or two of those will be in the first show, and maybe more as we work along this short tour leg.

Yes, it’s a “tour” – even though it’s only five shows; three in Florida, and two in Niagara Falls. I’m sure we’ll see a few familiar faces out there, but these kind of shows always get the local population out, people who like music in general and go see anything good that plays in the area. Tricky to please them, for sure, but usually they are more than satisfied at the end of the show. Roger’s careful to pull out songs of quality; if it’s not a tried-and-true hit we all know, then it better be a damn good song – and it will sound good to our kind of audience.

The skeletal crew is a portion of The Who usual team, a family, but a smaller version, less than half! We’re happy to be here, but unhappy that the venue – where we’ve been rehearsing and will play – has booked So You Think You Can Dance on our stage on the one DAY OFF – so we have to break down and load out ALL the gear for them, then load it all in and get it ready on Monday again. Ah well, could be worse, I suppose.

Opening act Leslie Mendelson is a good choice – she’s toured the world and crossed our paths years ago; she sang with The Who band for a packed crowd at our benefit show in Shepherd’s Bush. It will be easy for us to prepare (and stay) around her own small setup. Her voice is soulful and a soft voice will be a nice treat for the crowd. She’s built quite a following over the years.

We are all in a good mood, looking forward to meeting a couple thousand old and new fans at the show on Monday!

Onward . . .