Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who Hits 50! Tour: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA, May 17, 2015



We’ve played here several times before, it basically replaced the famous Spectrum arena that was here during the 70s/80s era. It’s a BIG building, oddly enough with two stadiums right across the street for outdoor sports. From the stage the view of this cavernous room is incredible. It has steep high sides, so it looks like a wall of people surrounding you. Most arenas are not really that different, as they are built for hockey and/or basketball, but this one is visually enormous. The Who plays arenas, but few are this size – about 20,000 seats- with a few exceptions (The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles seats about 18,000, Madison Square Garden in New York is 18,000).

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Big rooms make a certain sound – they absorb some of what you do, and some sound bounces around. I always prefer the sound of a “good” indoor arena, as the sound surrounds you. Outdoor venues have very “clean” sound, but it’s not as immersive an experience. Roger even noted at soundcheck that the room sounded good, even before people came in, which usually helps the sound. Pete talked about how U2 have a walkway out into the audience, where you can go out – and fall off. (He’d obviously seen the news footage of The Edge’s recent fall) Pete said he hoped we’d get one so he could go out and fall, too.




Our sound mixer has brought the bass up a bit recently, and we’re hearing all these amazing subtle parts Pino is playing. (He has been, but it’s such a thick sound that it’s sometimes hard to hear subtle bits, just the main notes poke through). His bass really lifts and drives the music when heard well. We’ve had problems with too much bass affecting the stage in the past: sound men are always very cautious with it – acoustic/electric instruments and singers can respond negatively to a BOOM sounding in the room, which is never a problem with electronic-based bands, like dance or hip-hop.

Have recently noticed the audience is captivated by one video in particular: ‘The Kids Are Alright’ is supported by scenes from the Quadrophenia film, with scooters and mods driving and hanging out. The cliffside ride of Jimmy is especially beautiful, and some technical additions make it have extra dimension and depth beyond the original film.

This town, like NYC, has an obvious affection for the band. While the people are not as extroverted and crazed as the people in Florida, here they were more into singing (loudly!) and dancing throughout, rather healthy and fun. It’s unusual to see Americans singing aloud (it’s quite common throughout England, especially at sports) so this makes a big impact to hear like this.


One of our smoothest shows this leg – although not perfect – we had a definite re-start of a flubbed entrance and just a few more little issues, all balanced against some of their best performances this year. All in all, it was an amazing night – seemed as if the band may have found it one of – if not The Best – show so far. If you wanted to buy one of the download shows to hear The Who on this tour, it’s probably a recommended one to buy, and maybe the one from Chicago.

Some great photos tonight: an old friend of ours, William Snyder, is a brilliant photographer. He gets strong and unusual shots, showing you the things you don’t normally see: most others shoot only Roger and Pete from the front onstage (it’s a classic look but is seen so many places). His photos are artsy at times, realistic at others, and show sides of the band you don’t normally see. Thanks, William. He’ll be out with us for several shows upcoming.






One last thing: those seeing us may have noticed something unusual onstage: black tubular columns around the amps and performers. We’ve tried something that is common in studios, but almost never seen live. These are “tube traps”, fabric-covered absorbers that soak up sound from amps and drums, etc. A company called ASC makes them, and did a set specially for the drums last tour and we ended up with them all over, finding new uses all the time. Pete’s had them in his various studios for years to help control the sound. It’s been wonderful in various ways: they are portable and we place them around to keep the bass sound from going into Roger’s microphone, or Zak’s loud drums from echoing off the big screen behind him. It also allows Pete to crank up his guitar amp so it sounds better and sustains more, without blasting his ears with too much volume. Other bands have amps and drums leaking all over the place, but we have more control now, and each person can have a little “zone” where their sound is contained. So now you know.

Onward . . .


Tonight’s Set list

I Can’t Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
Squeeze Box
I Can See For Miles
My Generation
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
I’m One
Love, Reign O’er Me
Eminence Front
A Quick One, While He’s Away
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again



1 thought on “The Who Hits 50! Tour: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA, May 17, 2015”

  1. Warren Bishop says:

    If you have the opportunity to see this, please express my appreciation to Bobby Pridden. I do sound engineering (among other things) and he’s a personal hero to me … Thanks

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