Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who 2017 Tour: Tour Rehearsal, Quebec City, QC, July 11, 2017

Ah, here we are, back again at it! “The Who Hits 59 And Counting Tour” is on again. They seem to be “not retired” – in fact, both Rog and Pete were energized by the last tours of North America and the UK. They’ve managed to avoid obstacles, enjoy the music and fans, and open even some doors to the future. . . . TBA.

The crew gathered first, arriving alongside the trucks of equipment. Some is exactly the same; guitars, drums, etc.) and others are equivalent versions of things that are hired/rented for each leg (the PA system, mixing boards, screens.) Same for the people, most are the same, with some of the crew going back to the ’70s now (with Bob Pridden no longer present from the ’60s) and some are brand-new, joining us for this leg or for years more, depending.

Two new crew members of note (other may have changed, but I don’t know them yet.) Damon ‘Dee’ Miller has replaced longtime monitor engineer Simon Higgs. Simon’s done nearly 20 years with The Who but has taken up more frequent work with new challenges; Lady Gaga (who went through dozens of monitor engineers until she found our Simon and has remained happy.) We wish him the best, and Dee steps in this week – a baptism of fire, as we’re playing a large festival this week, the toughest of shows to get right. Dee has worked for ages with Peter Gabriel, Oasis and others. He’s hit the ground strong already, and things seem good for us and him.

Another new hire is Simon Law, joining us to take care of Pete’s amps and pedal systems. Simon’s replacing Tim Myer, who’s gone back to his longterm employer (Roger Waters) on that huge world tour. Tim is more than busy with them, and also gets to serve champagne onstage wearing a pig mask, which we have yet to offer ANY crew member. Simon Law’s getting up to speed quickly, having “looked in” on the job while we were last working the UK. He’s coming from a strong background of many things, like guitar building, and tech work for Robben Ford, Matt Schofield, and many others.

We set up the first day, and very few problems arose. The venue is an empty hockey arena (they have those around here) and will be used to test the equipment and band members before we hit the big stage on Thursday. It’s been a good break, but we’re all prepped to go!

Tuesday, the band arrive, with hugs and stories all around. Most of us have done this many times before, and it’s not that long ago we did a tour leg, so it feels just like a long, long weekend away. The band ran through about 10 pieces. Pete said it sounded “like playing in an empty swimming pool!” – which it truly does. LOTS of echo.

Some nice surprises heard today, like Roger asking to run through ‘The Punk and the Godfather’ and a truly storming version of ‘5:15’ given this was just rehearsal. We have an appearance coming up on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, so that material was discussed, tried, rejected and then abandoned – with the special song TBA, but I think you’ll be surprised, pleasantly!

At one point, Roger told Dee his ear-monitors ought to have “less keys” in general. Roger’s an old rocker and in true form, prefers the guitar stuff of The Who in general. “It’s a long history,” he tells Dee, a subtly telling comment for those who know about the battles of The Who in the past.

Jon Button returns for his first North American shows. He’s from Los Angeles and is NICELY suited for this job, having played with Roger for years and just finished our UK tour. Most longtime Who fans will like his style, which is certainly not a copy of The Ox (who could be?) but more in that vein than anything we’ve heard since 2002. Jon also was the only player to accurately nail every song in rehearsal today; he’s come prepared and with full confidence; everyone is enjoying having him along.

Everyone seems in a good mood, Canada is peaceful and beautiful this time of year. We’re happy to be here. It’s a long Who tradition to start or end tours in Canada, and so it continues!

We are looking forward to seeing you out there .


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