Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who Hits 50! Tour: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC, May 13, 2016


Ah, this was a nice one. We all had two days off here before the show. It’s truly one of the nicest cities in the world. It’s become an expensive location, but it’s extremely human-friendly; modern and vintage buildings, lakes, greenery, tons of cool shops and neighborhoods. So, after two days of comfortable relaxation, we can do the show.

Rogers Arena – good location, hopefully Pete won’t be jealous. Another huge hockey arena, bigger than almost anywhere on this Canadian leg (but Toronto). Without a doubt, this was the youngest overall audience at any of this tour’s shows. The area is full of them, so it makes sense, but there were many young couples here. Many women were here in groups (we heard a rumor that women outnumber men in Vancouver 5:1?) which is unusual but good to see.



After ‘Squeeze Box’, Pete voiced a thought; “People get down on old bands for playing their old songs over and over. Well, it’s not MY f***ing fault. You wanna hear this old s**t. We’ll play it for you.” Hard to read the mixed message, but it felt like he was on the side of the crowd; any great songs are worth playing, new or old.

Recently, a mild source of amusement for the crew has been during ‘You Better You Bet’. On this Hits 50! tour, Roger has (for the first time ever!) wandered over past Pete to the far side of the stage. It’s not dangerous (it used to be) and without John’s deafening bass rig on the opposite side, he’s found a freedom on that other side as well. Now Roger wanders back and forth to both extreme corners. When this first happened, Pete was surprised and extremely careful about not stepping on Roger’s long microphone cable. Now, it’s become a more common thing, and Pete’s used to him coming and going. As a result, Pete’s boots sometimes land on Roger’s microphone cable causing some “short leash” moments when Roger attempts a long move. No big issue (and Roger is cool with it) it’s just a funny sight to see it about to happen…


I hadn’t mentioned it to spoil the surprise, but the band has been rehearsing ‘Acid Queen’ from Tommy at the last few sound checks. Tonight, it made its tour-debut onstage, right in the middle of the Tommy medley. Impressively, there is a previously-unseen video to go behind the song. It started (to all of us) as a chrome-engine-looking piece – like some modern V12 Jaguar engine. As the song progressed the camera pulled back revealing red liquid, tubes, and hypodermic needles. Aha – it’s the chrome sarcophagus from the 1975 Tommy film! Or a modern replica, likely done in 3D rendering. This version of the sarcophagus really looks sinister. A gorgeous piece of film, but I noticed the audience entranced (and maybe shocked) by it. Chris Rule and Des Murphy did the modern 3D version we see tonight and ALL the video content created for this tour. They happen to be Roger’s sons-in-law! (I hope to find some more information on the original piece from the film for you).



At the beginning of ‘The Rock’ the band began as Pete was readying his guitar; poor timing as Roger had just loudly pronounced the introduction to the song, starting the process. As it was a weak sonic start, Pete halted the rough beginning, and fairly so. “Would you please wait for me!?” Then, after a short pause to prepare, he again went to the microphone, “Evidently, they don’t know who I am!!”

‘The Rock’ is one of the gems in our setlist – it’s not a famous Who song to the public, but most fans revere that album and it’s a strong element of that record. One of my friends came to see a recent show, and he didn’t know the Quadrophenia album, but he thought ‘The Rock’ was incredible. He sat there in rapture, thinking it was the highlight of the night for him, and he asked a woman next to him what it was – she said “I don’t know, but I hope they ‘get on with’ it soon.” Ah well.


This night was considered one of the biggest successes of the tour. A loud and energetic crowd, tons of people filling a massive space. The band did well, and very few notable flaws. The city is a great and beautiful one, and this set the stage for such a great night.


Onward . . .

Tonight’s Set List

Who Are You
The Seeker
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See for Miles
My Generation
Pictures Of Lily
Squeeze Box
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
I’m One
The Rock
Love, Reign O’er Me
Eminence Front
Amazing Journey
The Acid Queen
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again

1 thought on “The Who Hits 50! Tour: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC, May 13, 2016”

  1. I totally echo that! The gig was amazing. My son and I were at the sound check, and said to him, ” Pete’s in a sexy mood, it’s going to be an amazing show.” “The Rock” was a highlight for me… Sheer Power! I also enjoyed Zak immensely. Thank you, WHO!

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