Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who 2017 Tour: The Colosseum, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV, August 9, 2017

I don’t know if I’ve discussed the video screen here (it seems not.) There is a HUGE curved screen around the band. It’s installed here long before we arrived, paid for (we hear) by Celine Dion herself. When it went in, it was state-of-the art. Now, our video crew brings brighter/sharper video screens when we tour. Yet, as this one is built-in, we must use it. During the pre-show slides, you might feel your eyesight has gone bad. Nope, it’s just their resolution here doesn’t appear as sharp as we planned for. And if you’ve ever sat down in front at a Who show, you may notice the video screens being out-of-sync with the music, or so it seems. It’s true – there is a planned delay before the screens show anything. Why? Because sound travels relatively slowly – that’s why we hear echoes in a big room, it takes time for sound to move from here to there. So when the sound starts at the stage, it can take a half-second to reach the rear of an arena. Light, from the video screens, moves much faster (the speed of light). As we realize the people in the far back seats need those video screens a lot more than the people up front would, we’ve timed the video to start “late” so that when the sound finally reaches those back rows, they see the video in sync. So most of the crowd will see our video in apparent “sync” with the audio, but those down in front always think it’s delayed. Onstage where we are, it’s quite a bit off. Now you know!

During our soundcheck today (VIPs came in) the band discussed the last setlist. Pete said he loved it when he’d seen it proposed, but then found it the single-most exhausting Who show he can remember! Zak and others felt the same; it was good but too long and too hard! We did have ‘The Real Me’ and ‘The Punk and the Godfather’ right next to each other that show: it was a hard one-two punch of the heaviest Who, but it obviously isn’t the easiest stuff to pull off within a very challenging set. Proposed changes were made again, and Pete insisted part of the trouble was racing from song to song, they should pause more anytime they feel like it. Pete also gave some extended guitar-playing which is rarely seen, working out sounds and ideas while the small crowd watched.

The show: ‘Who Are You’ is moved to the front. Pete had said he liked playing it up-front because it really gets him going. Pete said that the fans normally see someone onstage here in a beautiful dress (Roger said he offered!) but we were doing things differently, and changing the setlist every night. This would cause all sorts of trouble with our dancers – so we had to fire all of them… even Roger!

Roger said they never used to tell what the songs were about (sort of true, somewhat not… ‘A Quick One’ used to get a long intro each night.) They mentioned the song order being all over the place, and this would certainly have caused havoc with the dancers, had they been here!

‘Drowned’ again had both Pete and Roger, with Pete doing many changes to his guitar part, a new space to be free and improvise. It’s a two-song acoustic set, a really nice break during the show. Jon Corey played a lovely piano intro to ‘Love Reign O’er Me’, sounding very American, very George Gershwin.

‘Eminence Front’ continues to be more and more popular; certainly a great track, but unusual in the Who canon, as it’s less melodic and more groove/dance oriented. Yet it pleases nearly everyone, and the live version is just stronger and stronger each year. A small story before ‘My Generation’ revealed the genesis of the song rarely discussed; Pete said he’d lived in a rather nice area when he wrote it at age 19, but the rich women there used to often push him out of their way. It made him really angry. So – thanks to those pushy rich women, you’ve bought him a few boats and made millions of people happy! It’s still a classic Who identity song with one of the best lines ever in rock.


Tonight’s Set list

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