Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who Hits 50! Tour: Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA, May 27, 2016

I’m seeing the results of the road as we near the ending of this tour leg. Despite the days off (or maybe because of them?) I see more and more crew people sleeping during the day. It’s not been a difficult tour, in the normal ways (quite the opposite) but it always wears on you to be away from home and stability.

This place used to be called the San Diego Sports Arena for years and years; it is nearing a 50-year point itself. This is how we know the building, but since corporate sponsors can now be counted on for millions to have naming rights, it’s common to find classic old venues with changed names. Thankfully, Madison Square Garden and The Forum have resisted the trend. The room looks its age and reflects the time when poured concrete was everywhere (now it’s more glass and shiny metal styles on modern buildings.) One nice thing to note; spaced around the walls are “tube traps” the cloth-covered cylinders like we use onstage. They help absorb echo and control sound reflection throughout the room. It’s nice that a venue spent some time and money to actually improve the acoustics of the building!

Whenever we come to this venue, the old loading ramp and door remind us of a scene filmed here. It was featured in the film Almost Famous about the life of Cameron Crowe as a rock journalist. Early in the movie, the kid meets the others here on the long ramp, which does indeed look like it hasn’t changed since the 1970s.

They’ve spent some money upgrading parts of the building, though. In the main arena hallway, there are huge photos of past shows. The Who have earned two large photographs (plus text) about shows there. One of them mentions a 1976 show, but the photograph shows Kenney Jones on the drums . . .

As with the Los Angeles show, there were quite a few clouds of brown smoke rising from the front of the audience. Some people just never learn… Since the last shows almost ended early due to this, Pete took the offending smokers to task verbally, reminding them it could end the show, and told them where to stick it . . .

“I’m bored!” Pete announced midway through the show, despite the leaps and energetic playing we’ve been experiencing until this statement. “I’ll have to do something really stupid . . .” he offers, as a solution, then comes up with a better idea, or two:  “I was going to play something from Who’s Next . . . Wait!!! Let’s go sailing!” That’s indeed possible here, so close to the vast Pacific Ocean. “There isn’t a boat big enough,” Roger quickly points out. So they continue The Who show.

Pino made some recordings with John Mayer in Hollywood during the last break, and his playing shows it. There is more adventurous playing and more creative ideas happening from his corner. It’s not always mixed up and loud, but those who can hear/feel it will know!

‘Acid Queen’ is now back to the electric guitar version, as before. Evidently the acoustic version wasn’t strong enough.

Pete made a comment about Donald Trump being in town, which received a mix of cheers and boos. Regardless, Pete said, Trump’s best feature was that he was a big Who fan! Then he asked the audience if that would make them vote for him? “Noooooo . . .”

Someone at the venues commissions a local artist to do show posters; half an advertisement/half a celebration of the event. Nicely, they’ve done this with a sense of history, and The Who have a long history in this place. So the poster reflects all eras and the many years of visitation. You’ll see Roger and Pete now, the original band back then, and various key elements of their history, plus some dates and albums of the past. Unusually, it’s not done in a retro-rock-poster style that is so popular, but a  modern graphic style that still looks cool.

That’s all for now . . .


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