Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Tommy and More Tour: Royal Albert Hall, London, April 1, 2017


“Got a feeling  ’17 is gonna be a good year . . . ”

And back again! Only a brief day off, and yes, we did have to load ALL the equipment out after the last one and then again in today. (Deja-vu meets Groundhog Day.)

So, with one show under the belt, everyone’s ready, more prepared – less anxious. It was indeed a good show on Thursday but tonight it was bound to hit harder and better – and it did.


The Royal Albert Hall is very familiar to some of our crew, besides a few Who shows. Lighting Director Tom Kenny and mixer Robert Collins were here for the long Eric Clapton run called 24 Nights as well as George Harrison shows, and multiple TCT events like this. “Sounds like the Albert Hall” Robert said, when setting up for our first show this week. Tom was organizing the look of the place – onstage, around and above. It’s a gorgeous room – and painted with light, it makes for stunning photo sets! (Plus we’re filming for a coming project with Chris Rule at the helm.)


After opening act Imelda May (truly a talent and always a welcome name to see) some of the Teenage Cancer Trust teens came onstage. We’d just seen a moving film about their cause, hopes and feelings. Then such a great moment to have them come out – not very used to being onstage, and simultaneously thrilled and shy!


Then The Who show started with Tommy tonight – the last one had a few “warm up” numbers first. This gave it a new feel, and probably a little more appropriate. But still – not acoustic. Pete said he’d felt his acoustic didn’t sound strong enough, and he couldn’t feel that way for the whole show. So back to an old faithful, the electric.



Tonight, another change – Pete always uses his No. 4 red Stratocaster, he’s played it since 1989 for 90% of Who things. Even on Thursday, it did nearly the whole show. But tonight – something was up, and he played the show with a gold Fender, which he felt sounded better. Again – nearly the whole show was played on this one.



Similar show to before, but with the rough edges removed. Positive spirit, louder and rowdier audience, too. The feedback between band and audience was definitely happening – a climbing spiral. A great night of rock and roll in a classic music room.


Pete mentioned he’d thought about Tommy this week; how he’d written it at 23 and was just slowly starting to recall something about trauma. Things he’d blocked of a childhood molestation had made it very uncomfortable to return to this subject matter (although John Entwistle was given ‘Cousin Kevin’ and ‘Fiddle About’ to write for the album, the most directly abusive songs.) And so, Pete concluded, he’d find it hard to imagine returning to Tommy again. This may be it.



Two audience members I spoke to said it was among, OR the best show they’d ever seen in their lives. I’d suspect this is the impact we often have on those who have rarely seen Who shows, yet those who have seen a lot of them know the band is in fine form nowadays and almost every show seems to get to THAT level.


Looking forward to more, on this shortest of tours.

Onward . . .

If you would like to donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust you can do so here. And thank you!

Tonight’s Set List

It’s a Boy
Amazing Journey
Eyesight to the Blind
Cousin Kevin
The Acid Queen
Do You Think It’s Alright?
Fiddle About
Pinball Wizard
Go to the Mirror!
There’s a Doctor
Tommy Can You Hear Me?
Smash the Mirror
I’m Free
Miracle Cure
Sally Simpson
Tommy’s Holiday Camp
We’re Not Gonna Take It

I Can’t Explain
Join Together
I Can See For Miles
Who Are You
Love Reign O’er Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again


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