Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Roger Daltrey: Who Hits, Rarities & Solo Hits: The Bob Hope Theater, Stockton, CA, March 13, 2018

Stockton is not a common destination on our many tours, although it’s not far from Northern California’s normal stops: San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento. Stockton is an old city, a hub of various things, and tonight – it’s music central.

“Age before beauty” the saying goes. Not here, we have BOTH! The Bob Hope Theater is gorgeous, one of America’s classic original Fox theaters, dating back to the Vaudeville and cinema days. Much of the theater is either in great shape, or fully restored. Just the sight of it makes you feel better and in a great space for doing creative things…

We set up as usual, back in the groove we’d established many years ago. And today in soundcheck, another common thing happened: Roger finds the band’s volume is too loud. This coming from the man who fronted “the world’s loudest group.” True – but things are different. This stage is built for acoustic music, it actually amplifies sound in a way, resonating and reflecting. So the same amps (which we had already turned down as low as they might go) are too loud. It’s a nearly constant battle – and you’ve probably seen some examples: Plexiglass (Perspex in England) around the drum kits. Smaller amps than in the 70s. In-ear-monitors rather than speaker wedges all over stage. Still – as the Who once said “It’s not enough… Whatever you do, it’s not enough.”

The band tries to adjust even more: it is Roger’s show and he is the focal, but the present gear is really designed for larger spaces and more volume than this. We’re also planning ahead, as there are summer shows with orchestra, and volume will become a real battle on those days. I’ve seen it happen, with string players threatening to walk out if levels are not kept VERY low.

Our opening act is Leslie Mendelson – we’ve mentioned her before, and her simply beautiful acoustic duo set is warmly received by the audience. Especially here, they are happy to hear her dark, rich songs and powerful harmonies. It’s always a pleasure to work with them, and hopefully more and more people will discover her music this way, as we have!

After the Daltrey show intro (a little TOMMY music) Roger says it’s great to be in smaller places now and then, to see and hear people up-close. On ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ he mentioned trying to drop it from the setlist now and then. It’s his favorite Who song, but he always tries to change things up – but not this one. People don’t want it to leave, even if they’ve seen dozens of shows. So it stays in now.

He mentioned ‘Another Tricky Day’ was done for Face Dances, and it was indeed a tricky time for them. Yet today he dedicated it to Rex Tillerson, fired this very day by the President. The audience howled with laughter, as it was indeed a tricky day for Rex!

The real highlight of these shows has been ‘Giving It All Away’ – hit in the 70s for a bit, but rarely heard now. We love it, and Roger sings it very much like he did back in those days – quite a feat. Such an incredible song, too, by Leo Sayer – who Roger loves to talk about, as he truly discovered and helped him become famous. But the album started doing well and the label cut back supporting it in the USA, afraid he’d do a “Rod Stewart” and leave his band to go solo! Not this guy, The Who is his thing!

‘After the Fire’: No one expected this one tonight, and the band and Rog had just relearned it today to bring it along. This one has a lot of meaning for Roger, as Pete had sent it to him specifically written for his own use on a solo album, which Roger soon did. It became a hit, and we’re likely the only place in the world you’ll hear it live! Hearing the lyrics, you can see why Roger felt it was a clue that Pete might want to re-form the band someday. Good thing he/they did!

Tonight was a stronger one. Roger went several songs longer than planned, and we roadies had to run around telling the musicians what we thought was coming next. It was loose and fun, certainly an intimate-but-fun show, with a boisterous audience. They loved it, and made this smaller event the highlight (so far!) of our small tour.

Special mention goes out to our long-time tour buddy, Larry Richter. We’ve spent many years in arenas and on buses with him. He wasn’t here tonight, but he personally booked this show as promoter; it gave us just one more reason to be out on the road again, and every day helps make that possible. Larry was going to join us today but was held back during the week’s weather issues back East. We hope to see him soon, so he can enjoy his own personal show!


Tonight’s Set List

Pinball Wizard
Who Are You
Another Tricky Day
Behind Blue Eyes
Giving It All Away
I Can See for Miles
Days of Light
After the Fire
Dreaming From the Waist
Going Mobile
How Many Friends
The Real Me
Without Your Love
Baba O’Riley
Young Man Blues
Naked Eye
Always Heading Home