Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who 2017 Tour: The Colosseum, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV, August 7, 2017

In case you were wondering, it IS weird being here in Vegas for so long. It’s not bad – or awful – just weird.

We have, on occasion, done TWO shows in one place, or even more back in 2004 when we’d have four nights at Madison Square Garden, for example. But in this case, six shows over two weeks is not hard. It’s the opposite of hard.

Normally, we spend most of a day setting up, and a few hours tearing down for each show. Plus the two hours onstage with tension, waiting to see how it will go. With this “residency,” we don’t need to set up – it’s already there onstage. We also don’t need to load-out at the end of the night. So – 90% of our work is gone now; we only have the two hours of the show to be stressed out!

We set up a few days before the first Vegas show. Tested the gear, the band came and rehearsed (some of the surprise songs that have emerged, more may come) and then the first show.

This is a team of workers, the crew traveling to support The Who anywhere they want to play. So it does feel very unusual to not have your daily work – and the show goes on. Imagine coming up for dinner at home, and all the food and settings are already done? And then after, you walk away – no clean-up or dishes to do! Good, yes, easy – but for workers like us, it sometimes feels like we ought not to be having it this easy; it’s somewhat easier to have known you just set up everything in the last few hours and it’s now ready.

On our many days off here, there is: drinking/eating, walking, kayaking, tours to the Grand Canyon, other Vegas shows, gambling, swimming, and the classic “I’ll stay in my hotel as much as possible.” All the crew have their preferences, sometimes we overlap and see each other, some not.

Tonight’s show was Number Four of six. As Pete said up front “It’s Monday night, there was a full moon yesterday, and we’re in Vegas; that’s a lethal combination!” The crowd roared (although we can’t hear them as well in this space, we could see them.) Pete said that he thought Rod Stewart. Elton, and Celine (previous tenants of this huge room) would be VERY pleased that The Who have shared their stage! Ha!!

Another wild and strange setlist from Roger tried tonight. New shuffling of the order, although most of the songs were expected, some were not! Pete recalled them visiting here in 1967 for James Brown; he said he “left the stage more often than he came on!”

The band and Roger tried to start ‘Bargain’ together – big wreck. So they stopped and started again. ‘Bargain’ was now second in the set, and ‘Who Are You’, usually right up front, was farther back tonight. Roger started ‘Who Are You’ by having the audience sing along before the band came in – another odd thing that has only happened due to this new setlist!

The Quadrophenia set now has five songs in it, and ‘The Rock’ is not one of them. Pete has felt that with this front stage curved out, he cannot go out there and “work the crowd” as Roger is able. As such, the lesser-known instrumental was going down as well with this audience. Instead, we have an “acoustic set” in a way: ‘Drowned’ into ‘I’m One’. Nice. As before, Roger joined in singing ‘Drowned’; they must have enjoyed their near-disastrous version in the last show.

‘Eminence Front’ continues to surprise people with its power and feel. It was always a good song and single, but the live version today actually improves upon ALL previous versions. Almost a drone piece, it does have some nice breaks as well as being a great platform for extended guitar soloing.

In case you were wondering, you’ll not see Roger or Pete in the lobbies of Caesar’s Palace, except on t-shirts or posters! They’re staying somewhere far less busy and crowded. You are welcome to look, but it’s unlikely.

I’d mentioned before a secret new addition to Pete’s Fender guitars? Yes, the addition is on all of them, just behind the bridge, an emery board has been glued to the guitar. He likes it for grinding the guitar picks (plectrum/plectra) can be quickly sanded down there to get a nice grating sound against the strings. Always something new!


Tonight’s Set list

Who Are You
I Can See for Miles
The Kids Are Alright
Behind Blue Eyes
Who Are You
Join Together
You Better You Bet
The Real Me
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