Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Tommy and More Tour: Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield, April 10, 2017

“We’re gonna play our new album now . . .” Pete stated clearly, as they walked onstage to begin the show. Cheering, but confused, the audience waited for more news. “It was written in 1964!” and then they launched into ‘I Can’t Explain’. Off we go . . .

We’re back again in Sheffield, the old arena, a good-sized venue with nice-enough sound for a big boxy old room. This show brought out a big crowd, despite being pointed out as another Monday show. Yes, it seemed as if the weekend – which was gorgeous and sunny – had allowed the crowd to indulge themselves over the weekend, and the Monday audience was present and accounted-for, and doing their best to rock.

As was the band. At some point, the show climbed slowly up and up, gaining energy and momentum. Very few problems tonight, and so things were visibly pleasing the band. You could see it in one of Pete’s long-lost moves, the Chuck Berry duck-walk with guitar, which made a rare modern appearance onstage tonight!

Pete stopped during one of the intervals between songs, a place either reserved for (a) a joke (b) explanation of the next song or (c) preparation of equipment. Instead, Pete explained that many musicians use “in-ear” monitors (like a hearing aid) that allows them to wander the stage and have music pumped into their ears directly, sound monitor speakers. But Pete does not follow this trend, so only he onstage can hear the audience shouting that often happens. He also noted, jokingly, that he sometimes heard only “incredibly painful silence!” between things. Especially “on a f’***ing Monday!”

He then noted that it felt great to play, and yet said he considered sometimes how it would be to try a three to four hour show like Bruce Springsteen, “playing ALL of Tommy and then Quadrophenia, and then the hits.” First I’ve ever heard of that idea. Would be nice, if even possible, as their energy level would be challenged, as would the audience’s attention. Would be nice to try sometime!

Zak was amazing tonight, in many places. Especially on ‘The Rock’ he was adding so much to the performance. Though he’s been with the band for two decades now, it’s hard for any non-original member to gain a foothold with such a classic band. But every night, Zak holds his own with Roger and Pete. Given the circumstances, he’s done better than anyone could expect in such a prestigious spot. His new record Issues is out, with his own project SSHH.

It seems that some songs, like ‘My Generation’ or ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ could never have the same meaning as they once had. But others, like ‘I’m One’ tonight – have a new and even deeper feeling than before. It’s cool to see how Roger and Pete can re-interpret the style and mood of nearly every song, sometimes for the night, sometimes for a new era.

The end of ‘Baba O’Riley’ had a bright/loud shriek of feedback from the harmonica, as Roger played, but it didn’t matter as the piece was so well played (and received) that it only added to the wildness.

Lastly, there was an odd sight in the audience tonight – and no one can explain it: The first row or two stood from the very start, as did all the floor seats. Excepting the third to twentieth rows on the center of the floor; these few hundred people ignored together the rest of the room and remained steadily sat-down for nearly the entire concert! Only at the very last song did they all rise to their feet. Possibly these are season-ticket-holders who come to every show, whether it be Madonna or El Divo. If so, they don’t care that much for The Who. Or maybe they’re just a united bunch who feel like sitting down while everyone else rocks. It doesn’t matter, we all feel like that now and then.

One more show to go; we’re off to Birmingham next!



Onward . . .

Tonight’s Set List

I Can’t Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
I Can See For Miles
My Generation (with a snippet of ‘Cry If You Want’)
Join Together
It’s A Boy
The Acid Queen
I’m Free
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
You Better You Bet
I’m One
The Rock
Love, Reign O’er Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again

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