Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who Hits 50! Tour: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH, May 15, 2015



Late this afternoon, the band came in to test and sound-check the gear in the hall. Each day the VIP ticket-holders are allowed to enter early and see the band work on various things. You never know what will happen. Although the band are very honest and real in performance, the sound-check is even more candid. Today, the visitors saw some great moments: Roger was running late, so Pete was running through things with the band. At one lull, a VIP member shouted out “Happy Birthday Pete!” and Pete turned to the microphone and said “F*** off!” to the distant greeting. Then he proceeded to explain the various accents that could be used to say those two words, with a demonstration.

Despite a promise not to swear onstage, it still happens now and then – but maybe rehearsal doesn’t count?


Hello Columbus!

It’s fascinating to compare the differences between cities and general audiences. It’s a general rule that men are the majority at most rock concerts (with a few exceptions). Robert Plant once told us that, despite their reputation, hardly any women were at Led Zeppelin shows back in the day. Tonight was quite a change in this, for a large percentage of the audience present were women. Of course, we always have some women and couples present, but this was good to see. It made a more balanced audience  and it somehow shifted the energy too; not as rowdy as some crowds, but there was more moving and dancing throughout. Positive stuff.


10 (1)   10 (9)

10 (7)


18 (2)  10 (8)

In another demographic shift tonight, there were quite a few people in the under-30-somethings age bracket. This means they were born in the ’80s or ’90s, not the peak touring or radio eras for The Who, so no nostalgia. Younger fans are coming in Who shirts, and singing along with even the more obscure tunes, like ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away’. Obviously, The Who are a wonderfully visual band even today, and a lot of these kids are growing up with the Quadrophenia and Tommy movies, the Smothers Bros. clip, Woodstock film, or ‘A Quick One’ on YouTube maybe. Today, it seems the groups with strong visual history may develop a longer career boost over those with mainly just audible strength.

Tonight Pete was introducing ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and said “there’s one right here in the front row.” True – but actually there were no less than four kids (under 20) in the front row alone.

As mentioned in a previous blog, it wouldn’t be a Who show without some musical incidents. ‘My Generation’ was beyond the strange feeling when things are quite loose; it went into the bizarre sound of choas – almost completely off-time and out of sync. Still, as they do, the band just laughed and treated it as funny and promptly forgot it. Most artists would worry about it all night. But again, there were moments of pure musical brilliance to offset this, parts far better than the versions on the famous records.

Unknown to most of the fans and crew, Pete had ripped off most of a fingernail while playing, and soon some of the guitars were coming back with blood drops across the front. Midway through the show, we sent a note to the video crew “Pete’s fingers are bleeding, get closeup?” and they read the note without seeing the “?” as a suggestion, so they solidly zoomed in for the better part of a minute or two, showing only the bloody guitar. The crowd LOVED it. Not many bands in their ‘teens or ‘twenties play this hard, or put up with that kind of pain. Pete did show the bottle of Solarcaine ™ which helps ease the pain. Our next tour sponsors, maybe?

We on the crew always laugh during ‘A Quick One’ (the mini-opera) as the lighting rig looks like it’s suddenly a giant scoreboard: zero for Pete, zero for Rog…

Zak has done some fantastic drum fills during ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ in recent shows. A tricky part, always, as it has a certain timing it needs to hit, but it’s an off-kilter part in general where that wildness needs to HIT very powerfully right on the last beat. Amazing work, Zak.



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
Love, Reign O’er Me
Eminence Front
A Quick One, While He’s Away
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again




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