Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

TCT at the Royal Albert Hall, London – March 22, 2018

This could be considered “a home” of The Who. Certainly, there have been a lot of special nights of Who music here over many decades. It’s not an ideal rock and roll hall, acoustically – although it’s better than most. But the sound IS good and the vibe and warm feeling in this great space is truly unbeatable. It’s ALWAYS a good show here…

Loading in, as we have done many times here, reminds me of a positive change. Before they had a freight elevator/lift, we had to roll cases in through the hallways and bump them down temporary wooden ramps over the stairs among the seats! Now, with a bit of money and a significant engineering change, they’ve added a large elevator/lift right in front of the stage (where the seats will be placed later.) This one factor makes our work SO much easier. As soon as all the gear is in or out, they replace the floor and put the seats out, ready for the event.

Teenage Cancer Trust will be quite familiar to you by now. The original TCT project began years ago, and last year The Who played the 100th show doing Tommy live. Now Roger’s back with his band (most of them now IN The Who anyway) and our support/opening act is Dr Pepper’s Jaded Hearts Club Band. Curious? They are a mini-supergroup of musicians featuring Graham Coxon of Blur, Matt Bellamy from Muse, others from Nine Inch Nails, etc. They bring a look very much like the Cavern-era Beatles – all leather jackets and black pants. And they play an entirely Beatles-music set! All the rocking numbers from various eras are brought out, the crowd is crazy about it, but nearly everyone in the room seems to be enjoying this rare treat; an opening act you don’t mind, and they play a ton of songs you already know! They certainly “rattled our jewellery” tonight!

Before Roger’s set, a series of films are shown. It’s almost impossible to watch without tearing up, as emotions run high when you see kids between 10 and 20 years dealing with life-threatening illness – on top of life’s other teenage challenges! The TCT work is amazing, truly rewarding for everyone involved, and the teens seem VERY aware and appreciative of the attention and support.

They bring out a group of the young men and women in the program, filling the stage with a set of youthful smiles; many of them are shy to come out, to stand in front of thousands of people. But it is a great moment for everyone, and a reward. Lighters and cell phone lamps come out and the kids onstage have a moment to take one of the greatest selfie photos of the year – as they stand in front of hundreds of glowing stars all across the crowd.

Then without hesitation, Roger’s out, to loud applause, of course. He mentions the point of the evening (“to have a good time”) and proceeds in. The band are happy to be back, and the sound is tight and rich here. The set is very much as we’ve played recently, but it’s rare for anyone in the UK to have heard some of these songs (like ‘How Many Friends’) we had only added to the setlist over in the States.

Audible gasps (and a sort of scream) were heard when Roger launched into ‘Giving It All Away’. Obviously, these fans never expected this beautiful song to pop up. And it was a fine, fine version – I hope someone is filming these bits, to show how WELL a voice can hold up, from 1973 until 2018! 45 years and he can still hit this high-range song with ease. Amazing.

At the end, after some big ones, the stage cleared to play ‘Always Heading Home’ – something we’d added only a while back. It’s a strong one, with just Loren Gold on piano and Jon Button adding bowed string bass – very unique stuff at this kind of show.

And to close the show – a big surprise! Roger made the live debut of his new song (from the coming Roger Daltrey solo album, which features Pete Townshend on guitar on most of the tracks!) ‘As Long As I Have You’ sounds like a classic ’60s soul number… as it is! Garnet Mimms did the original record in 1964, and Roger’s added the brass parts to make it feel real, tonight played on keyboard. Joining us onstage, two amazing voices – Juliet Roberts and Gina Foster. The women did it right, the band (having only learned the song this very afternoon) sounded loose and powerful. It was a new/old style for a Daltrey concert, but it went down really well, and everyone left satisfied.

It was a genuine pleasure to see so many local faces we know here. Our own Richard Evans (doing this very website!) backstage. Nic Joss and Cookie who are always in Who-land (like it or not!) and both managers, Bill Curbishley and Robert Rosenberg. A former band member, Jody Linscott (you’ll remember her beautiful smile from percussion duties on Who and Townshend tours) came by to say hello. Nicest of all – our man Bobby Pridden returned to the stage to say hello and wish us well. He retired from touring last year but has been busy mixing; the 1968 Fillmore East show is coming soon, Pete and Bobby think it sounds great. It’s become the most-ordered advance record on Amazon. Exciting to have some Who, and several songs never before released live.

We’re done for a while. Hope to see and hear many of you when we return with the orchestral Tommy this summer…



PInball Wizard
Who Are You
Another Tricky Day
Behind Blue Eyes
Giving It All Away
I Can See For Miles
Days of Light
After the Fire
Going Mobile
How Many Friends
The Real Me
Without Your Love
Baba O’Riley
Young Man Blues
As Long As I Have You
Always Heading Home