Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Roger Daltrey: Who Hits, Rarities & Solo Hits: The Fox Theater, Oakland, CA, March 15, 2018

Another beauty! The Fox Theater in Oakland is one of the treasures of the Bay Area. Built in 1927-28, it was a palace of entertainment back in the day, then was shuttered for 40 years! Inside, the place fell apart, dust, dirt, rodents – everything fell apart. Someone paid millions to have it renovated, and they had to open the place for two full weeks just to “air it out” of sickening must so they could start renovation. The finished place is quite outstanding, as you can see in some of the photos – check out better pics online from their site. What a place!

We’re installed here, the last big show before we hit London in a week. Our supporting act, Leslie Mendelson is finishing her brief time with us – she and her partner Steve McEwen are always welcome, friendly faces with liquid harmonies that just float in the air. The audiences loved them and I hope they’ve gained a good following from this; more than ever, it’s time to support independent artists – it’s their only way to have a career.

We’ve had so many good theater shows over the years, especially when The Who scale down. I can think of a few that stand out: House of Blues in Chicago with Pearl Jam. The Orpheum in Los Angeles (to launch The Who guitar video game), the Kentish Town Forum shows in North London. Those had unique feelings of closeness between the band and the crowd. These 1,000-2,000 seaters really give a new burst of energy; not as big as an arena, but more personal and fun. Less pressure!

We also loved the catering – not often something we love – and the staff. Very helpful and pleasant. We, ourselves, LOVE to complain! We admit we do have a good job, but the hurdles are sometimes incredible. Our complaining is done with humor (usually) and helps pass the days – especially when things are going wrong. Personally, this short tour has been nothing but troubles for me, with things breaking EVERY day, and lots of pressure to get them fixed in time for the show. “I can’t complain but sometimes I still do” (Joe Walsh) – that’s us, on tour!

Speaking of, Roger said that if we play a perfect show, no one remembers it! I agree, it is the dangerous moments and true failures that wake everyone up. “You only remember it when we f*** up!” Roger says. “So I f*** up, on purpose now, to make you all happy!”

‘Another Tricky Day’ – tonight Roger sent it out to Trump’s son, on his impending divorce. “It’s nothing serious, just another tricky day!!” Shortly after, Simon called into his microphone: “Binky’s on fire tonight!” Binky being his (and Roger’s) guitar technician. He’s the most-often-seen onstage crew member, with a lot of work to do! And did it well, too. He MAY have been a touch nervous as his former boss was sitting watching the show from the sidelines right next to him – a young English guitarist named Jimmy Page. Yes, Binky was guitar tech for the wizard of Zep, who was visiting and enjoying our show tonight – half the crew spent time on the road with either Led Zeppelin or Page & Plant tours. Simon Townshend said it made him a bit self-conscious to be playing right next to one of the masters of rock guitar.

Bridges – the musical kind. After two verses and two choruses, almost every pop song has a bridge, the part of the song that usually only comes once – before or after the solo. Every night, I’m reminded how amazing Townshend is at writing these bridge parts (a ‘middle-8’ they are often called in England.) It’s fascinating to see him change the direction and flavor of a song in one second, take it away from where it’s been and with a kind of musical lift – and then the song returns with an even bigger release. It’s magical when it’s done right, and PT is a master: ‘I Can See for Miles’, ‘Another Tricky Day’, ‘Dreaming From the Waist’ – some great examples of this in action. ‘Sister Disc’o and ‘You Better You Bet ‘are not in our show here, but two more excellent examples.

Rog mentioned some nights when he’s in his hotel room, finding his way in the dark, wondering WHY he does this? It’s because he loves it. Aside from being with his wife and kids, he says it’s the most “complete” he ever feels. He’s happy to be here (remember his mysterious illness over a year ago, which was very serious) – or as he says “I’m happy to be anywhere!”

Tonight, the FOX in Oakland was the place to be, evidently. 

See you in London, mates!!


Tonight’s Set List

Pinball Wizard
Who Are You
Another Tricky Day
Behind Blue Eyes
Giving It All Away
I Can See for Miles
Days of Light
After The Fire
Dreaming From the Waist
Going Mobile
How Many Friends
The Real Me
Without Your Love
Naked Eye
Baba O’Riley
Young Man Blues
Always Heading Home