Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who 2017 Tour: The Colosseum, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV, August 1, 2017

AEG – the promoters – have done a great job of getting the word out. If you fly in, you see Who signs everywhere in the airport, and if you drive in, stationary and mobile billboards advertise the show. It’s our time here, a good contrast to the longterm shows that run for months and months.

If you’re a big Who fan coming to see us during this Vegas run, here are some Who-related suggestions to fill out your visit here:

Are you a Pinball Wizard? There’s a large building off the main road in town, dubbed the Pinball Hall of Fame. Vintage game machines from 60 years are gathered here in what is possibly the best entertainment value in town. For about $5, you could play for an hour! They do have the famous Bally Wizard game (inspired by the 1975 Tommy film) as well as other music-related ones, too. Rarities and common games, as well as the classic video-arcade era stuff. Really a great stop.

The “old Vegas” in the downtown area, was a section that was once the center of things for decades, when Vegas was just a small and less-impressive gambling scene. For decades, downtown had been left behind, and all the cool hotels and scenes were here “on the strip,” the main street. Just a few years back, big hotels started moving in, clubs, hotels and old restaurants were restored. And to top it off, the city funded a nice shopping area, covered from the blazing sun and heat. At night, the canopy lights up with a massive multi-block show on the screens overhead. Every hour or more, they used to run a big segment on The Who. We’re not sure if it’s still running, but if so, worth seeing – and downtown is cool again. Yes, they did it properly and licensed the music, so we feel good about it being available to so many people every day. Worth a look, shoot some video on your phone if you see it!

The Hard Rock Hotel is close to us here, and outside is the BIG lighted guitar sign. You may notice it is not any old guitar, but a special Pete Townshend Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, the modified guitars he used throughout the ’70s. That’s a cool honor – but Pete was the second contributor to their collection (after Clapton) back when they first started. Inside, the used to display one of the old numbered Les Pauls from those ’70s days – a real one, as verified by guitar tech Alan Rogan. I walked nearly the whole building last night and didn’t see it, but it’s likely still around somewhere, things move there often.

Nightly – Zak’s own band SSHH is playing each night (for free) just after our show. The band is doing club shows, with Zak on guitar, at the Sand Dollar Lounge. He’d love to see as many Who fans check out their music, you’ll feel quite at home with their guitar-based rock.

So, our second night of the run. As you’d expect, very similar to the last one. The show really kicked into gear with ‘Who Are You’ and Roger proclaimed “there’s life in the old farts yet!” at the end. Indeed, they keep proving it.

Pete told a rather lengthy story beginning with some cautious references to the modern political situation in America and England, and devolved quickly into a comparison with life in the past. Much of it was un-printable. This is why you pay to come see The Who, to get these one-off moments and stories that happen. (Knowing the unique gold each night is in their chatter, I always tell people to film the bits between the songs. Yet they always shoot video of a nearly identical ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ performance or something.)

Soon after, Pete was surprised to see a song he didn’t expect on the set list taped to the floor. “What the **** is THAT?!” he said into the microphone. Roger said “It’s a surprise!” The song; ‘Pictures of Lily’. Certainly unexpected, yet welcome. At the end, the audience liked it – but didn’t love it. So Pete was making jokes about the lack of response. “It really brought the house down. They just love these old rarities, these Las Vegas audiences!”

He said something (I think it was for ‘I Can See For Miles’) that he’d written it in 1967 but felt younger now than when he wrote it. Big applause. ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ nearly fell apart – something happened in the audio systems and half the band seemed to lose their place and the other half kept pulling ahead . . . rough, but it sort of came together at the end. Sort of, poor song, it was ground into pieces in Quebec, now another rough version of a stunning song.

A big ending tonight – Pete did a knee slide, on this stage where he’d resurrected it for the first time in ages. Successful, and certainly a sign he was in a great mood.

I’ll tell you more about our situation here next time, reporting something different to keep “the same show” from happening online, too.


Tonight’s Set List

I Can’t Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See for Miles
My Generation
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
I’m One
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