Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Moving On! Tour: Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, October 13, 2019

The merry band of brothers and sisters

Although we had two shows here, only one day apart – we had to pack away and load out all our stuff, store it in the trucks… and then reload everything back in today! Argh. It would have been SO great to leave it up after the first show, then NOT have to setup again for the next day. But our promoters have booked another event here on our day off – so we must remove it all. That cost us a lot in expenses, too.

“It’s deja-vu. all over again!”

Yes, we just did this event, and now it’s on again. Great memories of the last one, and we have some small breaks; we’re familiar with what goes where now, we have the house PA system again, and the orchestra will not need to rehearse the full show, just a simple soundcheck with the band.

Pete shares a joke with his guitar tech, Simon Law

Who the hell are these guys??

The Hollywood Bowl is iconic, and I have some strong memories here, too: This is the venue of the first Who show ever without John Entwistle. John had passed away on the evening of the 2002 tour, and Pino Palladino was brought in suddenly – that difficult show was this place. Such a tough evening, as I recall it, but Roger and Pete, Zak and Rabbit managed to pull off the first show without the most-distinctive bassist in rock. Pino was nervous, and so much pressure, but he did well – beginning a decade-plus of work with us that night. Then in 2006, Rabbit had to leave without notice, his wife was passing away. I was put in playing the keyboards, starting here at the Bowl. (Fully intimidated, as this was my hometown and we had no time to rehearse: The deep end, indeed, but it worked out.) Since those days, things have gone as planned for our Hollywood Bowl shows, although we haven’t played here that much. (There have been LA shows in the Nokia Theater downtown, and the Staples Center across the street from that, the UCLA Rock Honors show, the Greek Theater – but oddly no shows yet at the legendary Forum.) It’s nice to be back.

Kirk Hammett and Pete

Roger and Rachel

Tonight is technically the full moon – it appeared so the other night, but we’re told it’s the real deal today. Although slightly chilly tonight, it’s the same vibe as before – very full, active, but a relaxed crowd. They don’t drink too much here (that is common, and sometimes welcome, in the colder hockey-arena shows) and the people are generally polite. Backstage it’s happening as well, we see Mick Fleetwood, Billy Idol, Kirk Hammett, and Graham Coxon visiting like the old friends they are.

We’re off to a fine start. Pete yells a simple “Hey!” into his microphone before the big Tommy ‘Overture’. It’s the Hollywood Bowl, a stage-shell designed for acoustic symphonic music – as well as pop/rock – so it sounds great. I’m told it’s also superb sound out-front here. The ending chords of Tommy are admittedly usually rather sloppy. Tonight it is superb, incredibly tight, like a well-oiled machine. Maybe doing two shows with the same orchestra is not such a bad idea? Rare to have this luxury – and everyone admits this orchestra is sounding great, one of our best. We get them back a third time for our final show of the tour – in one week.

Pete explains that will be all we have of Tommy, then digresses into a brief history of how they built set lists in the past. They used to play Tommy when it was new, and play a good portion of the thing, placing it in the middle of their show. They divided the show into three parts that way (tripartite) which always worked very well. Tommy wasn’t as intense or heavy as much of their old 1969/70 show, so it gave them and the audience a nice dynamic change and some energy reserves for the band. Today, Pete really loves the set we have now, which is also tripartite; Tommy, then some singles and album tracks, then Quadrophenia.

The ‘Amazing Journey’ duel

Besides the “expected” bits you might look forward to, I have come to know (as most intense fans do) that certain songs grow beyond just “playing the record.” They may extend in time or maybe even just what is played; new parts or ideas added beyond what the released track did. Among these, we have the Tommy acoustic guitar duel, the ‘Who Are You’ guitar solo, ‘5:15’ ending jam, ‘Eminence Front’ solos, and of course Roger’s vocal improvs that happen throughout the show. These are parts of newness that often evolve from night to night – they start pretty minimal, then as confidence (or boredom!?) evolves, this launches a new set of ideas within the old song being played – and we get incredible parts happening that no one expects. If you come to a show, the parts you enjoy just might be something you’ve never heard before, “waking up” an old classic with new notes, words, rhythms.

Tonight there is a kid with two adults right down in the front row, the very expensive VIP seats, so he either has a great job or his parents are quite generous to treat him. We soon learn why; besides being in a cool Who baseball jersey, he knows all the words to all the songs! Even ‘Imagine a Man’ – which is a much deeper album cut. This is our kind of Who fan – and I went over to give him a guitar pick. His name is Cameron, he’s 11 (his dad tells us) and he just loves The Who. So cool. No nostalgia, no memories of the Fillmore or even MTV days or even the 9-11 event on TV! He just loves their music for now – compared to everything out there, this is his favorite. Sometimes we see an ocean of 50-70-year-olds and you think about times gone by, or how the band used to be. But moments like this, you realize that those were golden times and eras, but the music made then and now (as Roger always says) is still amazing and as strong as anything one might find.

The climax of ‘Who Are You’

Pete stops to tie his shoe lace at one point, and it takes a few moments, but oddly there is spotlight on him the whole time! When he finished, some people clap and he notes “That’s the first time I’ve gotten a standing ovation for tying my shoe . . .” Then adds “You don’t know how hard it is to tie your shoes as a 74-year old ****ed up stoner!” When everyone laughs, Roger adds “It’s quite an achievement!” and Pete tricks the audience with “I was talking about you!” pointing at the crowd. He mentions the millennials are carrying too much stuff by themselves, and they really need to share it, so we can carry it together.

For ‘Hero Ground Zero’  Pete mentions that some other coming album tracks are already available for streaming, but that ‘Hero Ground Zero’ is not yet. It does have orchestra on the recording “so it will sound like this (tonight’s performance) only better.”

You bet you better join in . . .

At one point during the talking, they joke about the mistakes they sometimes make, and someone in the near audience yelled out “you suck” (a joke) and Pete sorta agreed; “Yeah, we suck!” Then countered quickly with “You wanna come have a chat after the show? We have an army of people here to deal with people like you!” Someone yells “Rock and roll!” but Roger insists “This is rock. Rock’n’roll is music to shag to!” A little while later, someone else in the audience yells. Pete stops him with a lightning-fast “SHUT UP!” – it’s a funny retort, but an indication things are getting a little out of hand.

‘The Real Me’ is outstanding, especially Roger’s bits. He’s hitting hard tonight, again. Then the contrast in ‘I’m One’ comes up. Contrast not just musically, but in the progression from a frustrated messed-up kid to someone realizing their own worth. This lyric stuff always resonates. Tonight, the Quadrophenia set feels really aggressive – they are confident and pushing hard, especially Zak. He’s often the glue who has to pull things together between the lead guitar, vocals, band and orchestra. Tricky job . . .

Love . . . reign o’er me . . . 

Sadly Pete mentions they’d just had some family heartbreak as they’d lost their sister-in-law, wife of their brother Paul. Yet it was Simon Townshend’s birthday, which certainly was celebrated – always good to have a birthday surrounded by people who care about you! They point out Jon Button’s getting better and better – true, he’s bringing more and more inventiveness each week. And then an intro for Zak as “Keith Moon’s student – his only student – and what a mess he’s made of it!” Sort of true – Zak got a kit as a gift from Keith but Moonie seemed not to be the true teacher-type once it was delivered.

Keith Moon’s student, Zak

Hollywood Bowl Two: Definitely some high points, and both shows differed enough it would be tough to call “a winner” – both were actually exceptional. It’s always hard to judge a show; it may seem and sound great from where you are, and someone else has a rough time. Or the band may love what the audience didn’t – or vice versa. But having a fairly consistent view of the shows night-to-night, I’d say we are seeing two of the very best shows of the tour here. The band are really on fire and enjoying themselves. And to illustrate the point, at the very end tonight, everyone takes their bows and exits Stage Left – and Roger laughs and runs opposite to Stage Right smiling all the way . . .


Tonight’s Set List

With Orchestra
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Who Are You
Eminence Front
Imagine a Man
Hero Ground Zero

Band Only
I Can See For Miles
You Better You Bet
Won’t Get Fooled Again (acoustic; Roger & Pete only)
Behind Blue Eyes (with violin and cello accompaniment)

With Orchestra
Ball and Chain
The Real Me
I’m One
The Rock
Love Reign O’er Me
Baba O’Riley