Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who Hits 50! Tour: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA, March 16, 2016



Pittsburgh again. As Pete said onstage “I don’t know why I like it, but I do.” Our experiences here have been good, and this may be the first time without snow all around; an unbelievably gorgeous sunny day today!





Although this arena has a huge echo, it’s common that the sound “dries up” a lot when the crowd comes in; all those reflective seats turn into warm bodies with shirts and sweaters on. Still, it’s a good-sounding place, once our sound man Robert Collins gives it the famous “Test, one, two” over and over until the system is dialed in. He also plays music over the system, his favorite tracks to check out how the Who sound system pairs up with the room. We get to hear those specific tracks over and over, no matter where we are: Sting, Paul Young, or sometimes Earth Wind & Fire or Spandau Ballet. We joke that this is not the kind of music The Who makes, but in reality, the sound man uses whatever they’re familiar with no matter what the show. They know to “tune the room” to present the clearest, most-balanced sound possible.

Setup and soundcheck were uneventful, everything seems good and stable (even the band, despite having found themselves at the wrong airport earlier in the day!)


This Pittsburgh show was planned a looooong time ago. Many people bought their tickets in October 2014 and waited past many delays. So tonight was another really good one, hopefully well worth your wait?

Pete pointed out that this is a show of “hits” – The Who Hits 50! tour – but some really didn’t sell much, as singles. They were more of an album band, and those records sold really well over time, but many of the famous tracks were not hit singles (and we play a few from Quadrophenia that aren’t hits excepting to devoted Who fans.)


Roger’s been using the full width of the stage every night. Longtime fans will note that this didn’t usually happen. In the old days, John was too loud for ANY living being to be on his side, and no one went around behind Pete. Roger’s found it’s safe all over – and been using the width to reach close to each side of the crowd. Those on the sides, all of your seats just got ‘bettah’!


Pete decided to “break a vow” of some sort, and talked about the making of ‘You Better You Bet’. He mentioned watching out for someone who was on tour with them in 1979, and they fell in love. They went to a great art exhibition by Willem de Kooning, right here in Pittsburgh. And as the relationship developed, it turned intense, where one shyly says “I love you” and the other says “You better!” Hence the new song being born.

‘Love Reign O’er Me’ has become a showstopper, and I’ve never heard a loud cheer after the first chorus before – they were that excited by it. And it had just begun! At the very end, Roger tried some vocal acrobatics, and only short blurbs came out. He laughed and gave up, as he’d gone a little too high. Recently he’s done a lot of low, low, low singing at the end, which tends to bring some laughter from the audience. A few shows back, Pete even said “Only you could turn the end of Quadrophenia into a Johnny Cash thing!!”




The shows on this leg were planned to be 90 minutes. This is shorter than some previous shows, but it was felt better to hit it hard with full energy than to wear the band out and risk losing a single show. However, the nights have been a full two hours long. Pete wondered recently how this has happened – an extra 30 minutes with no songs added. Likely two positive things, lots of good talking and lots of spirited jamming at the end of songs – both a longtime Who tradition. Whatever it is, we’re not in any danger of losing shows over it, and everyone’s happy.


Onward . . .

Tonight’s Set List

Who Are You
The Seeker
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See for Miles
My Generation
The Real Me
Pictures Of Lily
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
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

1 thought on “The Who Hits 50! Tour: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA, March 16, 2016”

  1. Marc Saunders says:

    Fantastic show! Pete’s guitar playing was amazing, especially during the extended solos. He may not smash those guitars anymore, but he sure bangs them around enough! Now I can add this show to MSG 1979 (4th night), Shea Stadium 1982, Three Rivers 1989, and Consol 2012. Definitely a lot of energy. The whole band sounded like they were in tip top form. And the energy that Zak Starkey brings is amazing! Wish The Who could keep coming back over and over and over again…

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