Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who 2017 Tour: The Colosseum, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV, August 4, 2017

Rain? Yes.

Still hot as blazes but there was strong wind and rain today; monsoon season, they call it. Odd, but it works, bringing a bit of England along for us tonight!


Friday night and it ought to be a big one. And it IS !!! Pete literally RUNS onto the stage tonight, so some good energy abounds. First thing he says is “for those of you who come to every show – you mad bastards! Roger has cooked up the weirdest setlist I’ve ever seen! Here we go . . .”

True. Roger hoped to make the Vegas stay a little interesting, and as the room/scene wasn’t changing, they ought to try to bring some musical changes. Today at sound-check/rehearsal, he threw out a set of song options to put into the show. And many made the final list. Besides that, the structure was revamped. All Pete had asked was that the ending of the show (Tommy, ‘Baba’, ‘WGFA’) stay the same as it’s so powerful and good. And it has remained.

‘Who Are You’ opens the show tonight, and Pete made some funny gestures aping the hand claps of the backing musicians. We’d thought he never noticed them on this song, fixated on his guitar work, as he does. Speaking of guitar, ALL his guitars now sport a new accessory; very visible but not quite obvious what it is. It’s something new he’s requested and making use of nightly! (I won’t give it away just yet; look for it in photos and videos online, maybe you can guess? Probably not! I’ve never seen anything like it before.)

Pete said “I must have done something terribly wrong in the last concert we gave, because Roger’s making me play ‘Squeeze Box’! “ He’d joked about it a lot during rehearsal today, and it seems he really does not like it, but puts up with the desires of others to get it heard now and then. And so he played it, backed by the great animation film you may have seen before: They’ve taken the Entwistle artwork for The Who By Numbers and made short scenes of the band sabotaging each other. Pretty well-done stuff. Roger dropped his vocal out during the bridge, so after the song ended, he started singing it acapella to prove he really does know it – and the audience sang along as well. Good crowd, tonight.

Pete’s solo on ‘Relay’ was simply amazing. We must try to find it online.

So – it starts to get even more interesting! Pete announces the “new” Quadrophenia section. And launches into ‘The Real Me’ – a big crowd pleaser. Jon Button doing great on bass and appearing on the big screen now and then – without question a thrill for his wife and son who are here tonight! Quickly they follow with ‘The Punk and the Godfather’ – so we’ve had two of The Who’s heaviest numbers back to back. Strong. This is certainly NOT a Celine Dion show (the room was built for her over 10 years ago.)

Following next was to be ‘Drowned’ – which has often been a great moment with Pete solo on acoustic guitar. After a good minute of sound issues, Pete started playing the song and then found guitar problems. Frustrating. Then, after a replacement guitar comes out, he can’t recall the first line. He asked the audience what it is (“There are men . . .”) and Roger answered back – he knew it! “So . . .” Pete said “YOU sing the first verse!” and Roger did. Then Pete pushed hard into the rhythm on his guitar and took the second verse. Roger again did one, the third, and Pete rounded out the last. This was an unrehearsed performance, people, and definitely a magic Who moment, grabbing a victory from the mouth of disaster. Great stuff. I suspect this “new version” will become a thing, and we’ll see some version of it again soon.

‘I’m One’ followed, and then ‘The Rock’ was nowhere to be seen; removed to make room for the other things in the set. ‘My Generation’ came out, which has been placed far to the front of the show until tonight. The ‘My Generation’ jam after turned into ‘Naked Eye’ – yet another surprise, and not on the planned set list. It was certainly played better than when it arrived unannounced in Atlantic City not long ago, but it still has room to grow if they decide to play it again.

After ‘Baba’ ended, Roger brought a young lad up from the aisle onto the stage. Certainly less than 10 years old, he was wearing one of the new Who jerseys we have for sale. “A young Keith Moon!” Roger called him – and then he went back to the crowd. ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ was the perfect closer, as it always is.

The spoken introductions of the band members tonight were hilarious! Another sign of a great mood, onstage and off! It seems we’re doing well here – with great reviews in the local papers. And guess what? We’re halfway through; three down, three to go!


Tonight’s Set List

Who Are You
I Can See for Miles
Squeeze Box
The Kids Are Alright
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
The Real Me
The Punk and the Godfather
I’m One
Love, Reign O’er Me
Eminence Front
My Generation
Naked Eye
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again