Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who 2017 Tour: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ, July 22, 2017

Without question, this ought to be a good show. The building itself is simply stunning, likely the most gorgeous place we will play. Built back in the 1920s, the structure has style and taste, having been largely kept up (or restored) over the years. Built right on the famous Boardwalk among the beach casinos, this is an enormous arched wooden structure. It houses the world’s biggest (and loudest, in its day) pipe organ. Not only that, it’s the largest instrument in the world! Half the organ has been restored, and someday we hope to hear it all working again. It’s a huge boomy-sounding room, but that sometimes works for a big rock concert. Even the parking lot next door is a monster, the former Convention Hall can now house hundreds of staff cars, all our buses and trucks – and still have room left for hundreds more!

The last show we did here was simply a stunner; one of the best nights I’ve ever seen The WHO play. Without question, almost anyone in this room that previous evening would want to come back tonight. We’d even thrown a special invitation to official WHO photographer William Snyder, as the location is a superb background for any photo. (The final 3 photos here appear courtesy of him, from tonight. We’re looking forward to his future book of WHO tour photos!)

The show began slowly, as usual. The band comes on before Pete and Rog, then the two principals saunter onstage and begin to prepare. It’s such a casual affair to see, quite the opposite of what other bands do to impress, with opening tapes and “big openings.” Not here. Those familiar with Live At Leeds will know the casual Who start has been a long tradition.

The band seems in fine form. Zak has been powering through every single show since we started, even though he claimed to be exhausted at one soundcheck, he’s giving energy above and beyond the normal “turbo” setting he usually has! This helps each show a lot.

The largeness of the room is impressive, as is the huge crowd that comes out tonight, somewhere over 12,000 people. No doubt, this motivates everyone onstage and off. Lots and lots of women present tonight, which gives the room a different, positive energy.

Pete makes some interesting comments about the audience, wondering where they came from (not so many people live right here in casino-land.) He assumed many had come “out of the woods” as New Jersey (the “Garden State”) is actually covered with greenery and trees. Likely people came from all over the state, and neighboring areas like Philly and NYC. Roger joked about the room being built for elephants (it really was, originally) and made some trunk-like gestures with his arm, thereby knocking the tuning out on his guitar, so he did a song without it!

There were some hiccups, as in all our shows, but mainly strengths and fun. And a few special things happened. One, Pete did a stage slide during the “Won’t Get Fooled” scream, but it ended up going too far – and he plowed right into one of the onstage monitors! At the end, when the band intros were happening, someone wanted one of Zak’s drumsticks, so ZS gave Pete a pair to try to toss to the specific audience member. Usually, they NEVER reply to requests for picks, stage setlists, tambourines, etc. So this was unusual, and right after, Zak handed over a full dozen sticks, which Pete seemed to enjoy lobbing out to eager hands in front of him.

Most unexpected; the band usually jams after ‘My Generation’ – the section sometimes called ‘My Generation Blues’ in the past. Just beyond this segment, Pete cut right into the opening chords of ‘Naked Eye’ (unexpected by all) and Roger was right there to follow. Without question, it was a BIG thrill for those who knew. Unfortunately, those who “didn’t know” were the new bass player, and two guys on the crew (new monitors and video.) These three had no idea what was happening, and it certainly would be a shock to try and do a good job when the train has gone completely over to another track! The ‘My Generation Blues’ jam and ‘Naked Eye’ didn’t really catch fire tonight, they sort of stumbled along trying to grab a footing. But indeed, it was “a moment” that was special, the kind of thing The Who is unafraid to try. We look forward to more surprises. Never boring.


Tonight’s Set List

I Can’t Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See for Miles
My Generation (with a snippet of ‘Cry If You Want’)
Naked Eye
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
The Rock
Love, Reign O’er Me
Eminence Front
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again

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