Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who Hits Back! Tour: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH, Backstage Blog Part 2

Photo © Steve Ziegelmeyer


I promised you a Part Two, even though we covered so much ground in the last posting.

This one concerns not so much the concert as things behind and around the show.

Bill Curbishley and The Who Day, 15 :5:2022

Manager Bill Curbishley, who has handled The Who since 1974, met with Aftab Pureval, the Mayor of Cincinnati, who presented him with a commendation and official proclamation that May 15, 2022 (5:15:2022) was “Bill Curbishley and The Who Day”. Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Dale Menkhaus was working at the Coliseum that night in 1979 and agreed that keeping the concert going was the best solution; it gave them time to deal with the scene, but deceased and injured people all around that needed immediate on-the-spot attention. Had they called off the concert, thousands of angry fans would have likely rioted and emerged en-masse out those same doors where care was being given.

Pete mentioned during the show that “we’re working for free tonight . . .” – sort of an inside reference that they were donating all income locally. Pete even joked that he wouldn’t be working so hard tonight as a result – an obvious lie as he played some of his best work of this tour. In the end, the show raised and donated $515,000 to The P.E.M. Memorial Scholarship Fund. (Note the recurring 5:15 theme!)

Finneytown also gave a similar commendation plaque, which Bill received with pride. Finneytown – not a name many know, but core to this event is one of the many Cincinnati suburbs, just 10 miles due north of where we are. This is the town that lost three of their young ones, and has formed an active group there to pay tribute and remember those who died in 1979. They have built a lovely memorial site, with displays and memorial markers, bench and flagpole. P.E.M. Memorial Scholarship Fund is the place to check out – great active work being done yearly on their behalf. They also sell the T-shirts and jerseys that were onstage during the show, bright yellow with the Who-Meets-PEM logo. Zak Starkey has been themed in yellow all this tour, so it was obvious he took right to the shirt and wore it onstage all night. Finneytown High School (FHS) is quite active and very involved in our work tonight.

The P.E.M. Memorial at Finneytown High School

Zak Starkey wearing his yellow P.E.M. t-shirt with pride. Photo © Steve Ziegelmeyer

Our FHS guest musicians were also similarly attired. Yellow shirts really stand out in photos and videos, so you won’t miss them! Joining us that night were a great team of talents:

Photo © Steve Ziegelmeyer

Our choir members from Finneytown sang along on “Don’t cry, don’t raise your eye, it’s only teenage wasteland” during ‘Baba O’Riley’. They were very pleasant, not pushy or ego-driven, just great kids. They are: Anna Tenhundfeld, Layla Nixon, Angelina Bush, Claire Adams, Kay Nicht, Dakota Brooks, and Max Revelle.

Top performer tonight was orchestral string bassist Zach Wuorinen, who played the whole show and is a 2020 P.E.M. Scholarship Awardee – Oberlin College Sophomore.

Viola player Lizzie Carter and her police officer mom, Michelle who worked as security at TQL tonight so she could see her daughter play

For the last number, ‘Baba O’Riley’, we were joined by three string players, Annie Haarlammer, Isabel Laguna and Lizzie Carter who played the whole song.

Student Josh Crutcher was along to document the day on photo and video and what a great event to have preserved!

Pictured here, with super-organiser Fred Wittenbaum, are those who came onstage at the stadium:

We also need to thank a few others who really pulled the gathering together and made everything fly easily.

• Stefanie Kennedy – Choir/Orchestra Director
• Michael Kennedy – Choir/Orchestra Director

• Laurie Banks – FHS Superintendent
• Cathy Counts – FHS Counsellor
• Matt Breines – House of P.E.M. Leader
• Megan Kelly – FHS Teacher

I’d thanked Tanya O’Rourke in the last blog post, she’s a Senior News Anchor at WCPO 9 television, ABC’s local news station. She posted so many great things to her Twitter account that we have to share the link; you’ll enjoy these . . . Tanya O’Rourke on Twitter

I was told there was a MASSIVE graphic to encircle the screens outside the stadium, There were Who logos and arrows flying. Could not get out to see it – so if you did and can send us a photo somehow; we’d love to post it!!

(Brian, Sue Roeding Lanter responded to your request and sent us two great shots of the TQL Stadium exterior. Thanks, Sue! )

Photo courtesy of Sue Roeding Lanter

Photo courtesy of Sue Roeding Lanter

Big thanks to Dan Bartlett and Tom Kenney for organising and setting up this great light show on the outside of the stadium.

And, finally, thanks to all The Who Crew who do such great work, especially in the face of the lingering pandemic. Great work, everyone. It was worth it!

Onward . . .

Photo © Steve Ziegelmeyer

Photo © Steve Ziegelmeyer