Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia: The Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY, September 9, 2017

“Only love can make it rain…”

While ALL of these Classic Quadrophenia shows will be special in their own ways, the Met double-header will be hard to beat: The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. You may recall The Who’s early Tommy tour taking them to unusual venues promoting the “opera” side of Tommy, something to wake people up to the fact that this rock/pop band was doing something special. This venue was the 1970 site of the final Tommy show on that tour. And it marks the arrival of QuadropheniaTommy‘s strong but less-famous sibling album – in a truly operatic world.

Countless masters of traditional and modern opera have been on the stage here, and it’s not often a site for rock musicians. The feel is different, a very velvety rich room with very high ceilings and chandeliers. There are five balcony levels, rising vertically and steeply to the high roof. The stage itself is much deeper than Tanglewood, yet is filled with players and singers. The staging options for shows here are incredible, as opera scenery is massive at times, dwarfing any Broadway or London West End musical. There is an elevator here backstage large enough to move several large trucks at once! I’m told there is enough floor space onstage and offstage to cover 3 football fields. Amazing.

Tom Kenny’s lighting choices change per venue, and tonight he can use “smoke” the soft fog that make lights beam into three-dimensional space. Still, he’s on the tasteful side, as it’s not a rock event. Just nice mood changes and subtle shifts of color. Most inspired, they have crystal chandeliers around the room, which are normally switched off and then raised out of the way when house lights go down. Tom noticed this and asked for something special. When the orchestra starts into ‘I Am The Sea’ – the chandeliers start to raise slowly together over everyone’s heads, and dim slowly as they raise to the high ceiling. Beautiful – and they’ve never done it here before, even the locals are quite impressed by the idea.

The energy changed here, it IS more serious and important. Tanglewood was fun, but this IS opera-level stuff. Pressure to be in New York City as well. Still, seems to go very well, with the fun spirit of the last show, and the dancing that is… hard to describe, but it works!

Above: Pete and Alfie Boe with (left) conductor, Robert Ziegler.

We are most-happy to be here one more night, with everyone having a good one “under the belt” and ready for more… Excited.

Thanks to William Snyder for the great photos added tonight!

Onward . . .

Tonight’s Set List

I Am the Sea
The Real Me
Cut My Hair
The Punk and the Godfather
I’m One
The Dirty Jobs
Helpless Dancer
Is It in My Head?
I’ve Had Enough
Sea and Sand
Bell Boy
Doctor Jimmy
The Rock
Love, Reign O’er Me


The Real Me