Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who Hits 50! Tour: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, TX, May 2, 2015


The Who have been visiting Dallas since their very first tour in 1967, when they were second on the bill for Herman’s Hermits. Since then, we counted ten visits to the great city, this being their eleventh show in “the big D”.


We had such a wonderful stay here. Time certainly has been kind to Dallas, as much of the city has improved in the last 15 years or so. It’s now become a fun and easy place for casual visitors like ourselves. Each time we come back, it’s better and better.


American Airlines Arena is familiar – we’ve done two shows here before, with great success each time. The show started off well, to a packed house, probably the largest we’ve seen on this tour so far. Pete made mention of Ben E. King having recently passed and noted that B. B. King (who’s often been doing shows from a wheelchair onstage) has recently retired. As he noted, it makes The Who look “really rather young and valuable, aren’t we!?”


We were a BIT worried as this was the first audience to sit down during most of Joan Jett’s set. Of course, that changed for ‘I Love Rock N Roll’ and when her surprise guest Miley Cyrus showed up with her nipples covered only by small X’s of tape. (She’s apparently on a campaign to “Free The Nipple”.) We can assure you, no one knew about it until moments before she walked onstage; many of our crew are handy with tape, but were not asked.




Even for The Who people sat down until a few songs in, until ‘Who Are You’ (a sure rocker) kicked in. Rog and Pete wore nearly matching blue over black outfits (as they have at several shows), but it was still easy to tell them apart: Pete is the one with a red handkerchief!

Roger pointed out some of the songs have a “lot more lyrics” than other bands do. Which is true. He then noted that they are also probably the best lyrics “any singer could wrap his vocal chords around.” Indeed, given the repetition and simplicity of many pop/rock classics, the Townshend lyrics are a seriously powerful part of the night.



During one song, we saw something unusual nowadays; lighters in the air. Often now it’s the LCD screens or the (useless) flash bulb from the mobile phones. But the rock concert classic of the lighter is still such a nice-looking thing. If you don’t know how to turn off the flash on your phone, please ask any local nine-year-old. It’s nicer for everyone around you and saves the battery many times over!

Ms. Miley (with Joan’s longtime producer Kenny Laguna) watched The Who’s show from the sides of the stage. She’s done a lot of touring recently, and our tour accountant says she’s great to work with and for – a hard worker and good to her people.

‘A Quick One, While He’s Away’ is still in the set. It’s often discussed by many whether it’s the right thing to have in the set. It does appear quite late (chronologically, compared to the other ’60s numbers we have) in the set. But it’s truly a die-hard fan’s favorite, a dream finally come true to see live. Nothing will ever (ever!) compare to their amazing performance of it on The Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus, but it’s catchy and fun, although it seems most people don’t know it; this may be their chance to learn it exists and then see The Who at a visual peak online. The opening harmonies sound just stunning (no backing tracks, please). We nearly fell out of our seats when one of the newer musicians thought the song was about a guy called Herman. “Herman’s been gone, for nigh on a year . . .”!!! (At least, now we know the missing guy’s name.)

Ending with ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, as they have, brought down the house. It’s possible many of you have noted, but ‘Who Are You’, ‘Baba O’Riley’, and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ are nearly perfect “live performance” songs, with memorable lyrics, and easily identified intros and riffs. There are huge dynamics from whispers to screams, and powerful endings. They are anthemic (literally) and from the band that possible defined the arena anthem. Music perfect for what we did and saw tonight, the band and audience doing it together. Great moments.


Tonight’s Set List

I Can’t Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
Squeeze Box
I Can See for Miles
My Generation
Magic Bus
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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