Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Moving On! Tour: Rehearsals April 30, 2019

Somewhere in the U.S.A.


As hoped, we are back!

This Who + Orchestra tour has all been planned for a while – but no one (literally no one!) knew exactly what would be happening. There are so many differences to deal with for this new venture, and much of it cannot be planned, just hoped-for and awaited while various parts come together in front of us. The amount of change is tremendous; so much here is new to us.

• Most of the music in the coming concerts will be accompanied by a full-size symphony orchestra. Alone, that is a big change, even if nothing else had shifted. Yet to make this work well, many things needed to change as well:

• All the guitar, bass and keyboard rigs are redone/new for this tour, for new sounds and to bring the volume into balance with what the orchestra will play.

• A big change: Pete’s longtime guitar handler, the famous Alan Rogan, is away under medical leave. Since 1975, Alan’s been the caretaker of that serious business, and his unique stye and banter is already missed. His presence, for us, is as strong as any band member!

• Zak’s new drum set is totally different to anything we’ve had before.

• We have a new band member and others are now gone.

• Things that were often spontaneous (or just out of control) will now have more of a plan, as orchestras are not known to “jam” . . .

It’s all just different.

Everyone’s trying to adjust, making changes/sacrifices to make the whole experience better – and everyone is backing away from ego to accommodate a greater outcome this year.

It’s a huge challenge to get ready – even songs done thousands of times before are feeling new – and sort of strange, in a good sense of anticipation. Everyone’s nervous, but not in a negative way – just the excitement of the unknown. Some of you may have seen Roger’s orchestra doing Tommy or Pete’s orchestral Quadrophenia recently; we learned a lot from both – and aim to make this tour the best of all worlds, without losing what The Who does well at their own shows, the things that make them the unique live band they have always been.

There will certainly be some serious surprises this year. I won’t give away anything yet, because things always change. But I promise – if you’ve seen The Who over a hundred times in your life, this show will be different, and spectacular and beautiful in ways you have never seen. Some moments will be big surprises, and some will be simple small ones. (The other “big” change was the first Tommy reunion tour of 1989, when the band expanded – and this dwarfs that change.) It will still be rocking, still be The Who as you know it; raw energy, beauty and lightness, power, joy – those unusual combinations of flavors that make up a Who night.)

This week, the core band has been working together in the giant room, readying their new set-up and learning parts that will work with the full ensemble later. It’s both casual and intense, too. In a day’s time the whole orchestra spends a few days doing their own rehearsal here, and then the two groups meet and play together – with a few days’ preparation before the first show. Exciting stuff, even without the orchestra, as you’ll hear: Pete brought me a video camera and asked that I continue the blogging he’s done in the studio with some filming, so you’ll get some taste of what is to come.

I’ll save “the full reveal” until the night of the debut – but you can sense the coming attractions from the short samples we’ll give you here . . . enjoy!

Onward . . .