Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who 2017 Tour: Harveys Casino, Lake Tahoe, NV, August 16, 2017

As I said last time, no two venues are alike on this tour! Today we’re in beautiful (outdoor) Lake Tahoe, a gorgeous moutain lake resort area, straddling the State lines between California (where our last show was) and Nevada (where gambling is legal, hence our recent Vegas shows in this state.) In fact, this casino is just over the border, by only a few minutes’ walk, so a lot of the clientele are from Northern California (as Vegas gets a lot of its business from the L.A. Area…)

The venue is right behind the big hotel itself. This outdoor stage has a wide, flat floor seating area, something not common for us, and then sloped bleacher seats on both sides and the far back. It’s a nicely-done venue, with good-looking backstage areas and the whole spot is overlooking the big lake itself.

We soundchecked today – some days (or on festivals) they skip it, but Roger’s now convinced that lack of a soundcheck means we will have some odd surprises – and a poor show will result. So we check.  Things seem ok, although not clearly good, yet. Townshend says something about it being impossible to get his guitar tone right without the room being full of people etc. It’s just a basic “make sure it’s close” and then we work quickly during the show to dial in good sounds once the event is really happening. This from the band who never used to soundcheck at all…

It was quite unexpected to run into Sammy Hagar backstage; he’s come to interview Roger for his podcast, which has been doing quite well. Evidently, the chat between them was full of enthusiasm and shared stories – or so Sammy told me. (He was wearing his Montrose ‘Paper Money’ Tshirt, so certainly he’s not one shying away from The Past.) Sam’s podcast is doing really well, so watch for news of it soon.

The audience here is a happy one, and sort of middle age group, mainly in their 40s possibly. Not many fanatical crazies here, just people happy to drink and dance and be outside in good weather. We started the day with strong sun, then grey clouds came and made us worry – and then it cleared up again just before the show; it’s lovely night for anything outdoors here. I’ve noticed for all the good times we have, nearly everyone on the crew is worried (or downright scared) while a show is on. We can relax the rest of the day, but we’re all trained to be here handling things quietly and with confidence.

Pete was having some serious guitar issues onstage. “Sorry, the heat is f***ing up my guitars,” he said, “But you don’t care, do you!?” he teased the audience. I think he even changed guitars twice during a single song during the show. And he changed out his main amp – always a last resort – during a song. Hard to notice an improvement. He spent a lot of time adjusting the settings on his pedalboard. At one point, he apologized to the audience for so much fiddling about; he’d spent more time tweaking his pedals than I’ve ever seen before. He did say not to worry – he’d get it together by the end. I’m not sure if it ever quite got “there,” but he did relax and start playing loosely at the end.

As ‘I Can See for Miles’ was introduced, Pete mentioned that it was written about 2 years before, and then he “sat on it for a while” – an unusual idea, especially for one he loved so much. He was fairly sure it would be a big one for them, and it was. ‘Naked Eye’ was good today, too, with a very smooth transition we did not have in previous shows.

At one point, Pete was trying to grab the attention of one of our roadies: Binky, who was out bringing tea to Roger. “Hello Sailor!” came Pete’s unexpected call to him. “He’s a sailor of his own boat, I am on mine.” PT explained. Pete just wanted some tea brought over to him as well, with the outside weather drying out the skin and throat.

We kept seeing something weird in the audience, and eventually came to know what it was! Someone had blown up paper/cardboard heads of Roger and Pete and attached them to poles. No one took much notice until the very end, when Pete looked out and said “It’s ME, it’s ME!”

Soon enough this one ends, a with a strong sign of relief from the crew. It’s not that we mind doing shows – not at all! But trying to adapt to such widely varying conditions makes it a touch job anyway. We’ve been out on this leg of the tour for 50 days, time to head home. Thanks to the people of Lake Tahoe (and ALL the fans who came out to see any shows this Summer!)

Next up – there is the Classic Quadrophenia orchestral tour, with only five shows in the States. I’m along for that ride, so we’ll post some info on what happened, and hopefully some photos, too!

Then off to South America; nearly half the crew (and The Who) have never been there before. It promises to be memorable, and I’ll shoot the best photos I can of the situation there. Thanks for paying attention, we’ll keep you attached and in-touch!


Tonight’s Set List

I Can’t Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See For Miles
My Generation
Naked Eye
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
5:15 (The 515th time it has been played live, apparently!)
I’m One
The Rock
Love, Reign O’er Me
Eminence Front
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again