Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who Hits 50! Tour: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO, March 30, 2016

Our last show of this part of the tour, feels like a good time to take a break, as well. Denver is the Mile High City – and known for a beautiful mountainous area, fresh air (what  little there is up here) and a state with progressive thinking… In other words, between Boulder and Denver, you have one of the highest concentrations of “hippies” (in the good sense), people who love music – and fun.

Lots of them here tonight, a very full house. No, we didn’t get the expected pot smoke issues, which was wonderful. Roger does so much better with clean air. We do run a slide before the show warning people to minimize the smoke – or it might end the show.

Before the show Zak had a visit onstage from the former drummer of the original Alice Cooper Band – Neal Smith. Neal had a unique set of drums for each tour in the ’70s and used to compare notes (battle) with Keith Moon for the most elaborate kit on tour that year. Zak grew up playing Alice Cooper songs, so Neal demonstrated some classic tunes at the soundcheck – if any of you were there and wondering who he was.

The show continued our many-week run of exceptional nights onstage. I have been with the band almost 15 years and this tour has been the most consistently high-quality performances I’ve seen. Roger said he’s more pleased with his singing now than ever; not to say it’s better than it ever was, but given the circumstances, he’s really gotten control of his voice and has a range none of us thought possible a few years ago!

Lots of women alongside the many men again tonight, and finally a return of “The Kids”; youngsters under 20 who are now making up a good portion of The WHO audience. They are always welcome. This audience was loud, but not crazy – maybe more mellow. And they were dancers, all of them swaying and twisting to even the less-obvious songs.

Pete and Roger had an onstage battle tonight; of the memories! Roger remembered that HE had painted the original “DETOURS” logo on the side of their van, with an arrow alongside it – he said it felt like it pointed towards freedom in his life. Pete made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that HE had painted it. Memories are flexible things, but given that one had been to Art School at the time, there is some weight to be given to that recollection.

Thank you Denver, for a wonderful sendoff, the band had extra energy as we knew we could rest for a month, so you got a GREAT show.

As this is our last night for a while, Pete thanked so many people in the support team; not all by name (too tricky even for us) but by department. It’s a great bunch of people, the ever-shifting WHO crew. One has been with the band since the ’60s, once or two since the ’70s, and every year, some come and go. You should hear the many accents as we speak; English (of course), Welsh, American, French-Canadian, New Zealander, Cockney, Southern, Californian – a real hodgepodge. It makes coming-and-going quite interesting with all the borders we cross. But it’s also evidence that The WHO is really an international group. The roots and style are very English, and that’s reflected in the music and clothing and graphics. But the band are considered “our own” by so many other places: In Canada, where they often begin or end tours, in NYC where they have made so many critical appearances, in Detroit their early music-stomping ground, in so many places. Honestly, we’re all part of a big family, some closer than others, but the band encourages a sense of spirit, humour happens all day long, and certainly the openness of honesty the band has makes us all a little outspoken and bold, too.

I re-met one of our old lighting crew, almost 14 years after she’d worked with us. Since then she’s done huge tours with McCartney and Prince and dozens of others; it’s her life. But – she says – the best tour and crew was with The Who. Maybe we’ll run another of those “roadie for a day” charity contests soon and you can be a part of it. My heavy cases are right over there . . . !

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
Slip Kid
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again

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