Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Tommy at the Mann Center, Philadelphia, PA – June 19, 2018

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, PA

With the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia

June 19, 2018

New venue to us, this Mann Center. It’s nice – sort of like the wooden style of Tanglewood and Wolf Trap, but with extra layers of balcony so there’s a lot of good, close seating. The locals are helpful and this orchestra seems to be not only familiar with Tommy, but they like it…

During rehearsal, one of the percussionists decorated his large bass drum with a Who Maximum R&B t-shirt, the first outward sign there would be someone on our side.

Our procedure has become solid; we load in during the morning with helpful muscle and hands from the local union crew. These people have usually done a lot of shows, and I suppose some of them are older as these shows are usually not as demanding. Older and seasoned is good – that’s a match to our crew, I think.

Slowly over a few hours, hundreds of cables, cymbal stands, plexiglass sheets, guitar amps, mic stands, etc. etc. – these all are installed and ready to go. Guitars get re-strung, heads on drums get changed. By early afternoon we are “line checking” – testing each microphone and cable for sound.

The orchestra come in and start their rehearsal. Keith instructs them quite quickly (we don’t have much time) in each piece and the overall feel he expects. Everyone knows this is fast work; each piece is played just once. Only very specific problems make them stop or go back to rehearse again. Midway through, union regulations insist on a break, so the orchestra leaves and OUR band come in, with Roger. We do a normal band soundcheck, maybe three or four numbers, then the orchestra rejoins and we finish their rehearsal with the Daltrey band playing along. That being done – it’s dinner time for all, and then the show.

Each crowd has had a different flavor. Someone brought a group of young kids down to the front row (they did not buy those seats, it was a gesture of kindness) so they got a really great view – and it made the show better for us! Despite a few small stalls toward the front, it seemed good overall, and the audience was again pretty excited by it all – standing and singing along as the better ones do.

Roger pointed out a nice tidbit, as the lovely Katie Jacoby came out to do the fiddle on ‘Baba’ – Keith Moon had suggested the fiddle solo on the original record. So it’s been a highlight of the show each night, and you’ll no doubt be able to see many versions of it on YouTube from any given show.

 

We’re always happy to be back in Philly – it’s one of those rock towns that music-people love, like Detroit. Hardworking people, enjoying nearly perfect weather tonight! Speaking of rock, Roger pointed out that Pete generated a special kind of music. It was the old “rock ‘n’ roll” of the 50s, it was just ROCK. The Rock! And it lends itself well to this kind of orchestral bombast and color.

Thanks to those who came out tonight, it looked pretty packed.

Onward!

SET LIST

Overture
It’s a Boy
1921
Amazing Journey
Sparks
Eyesight to the Blind
Christmas
Cousin Kevin
The Acid Queen
Do You Think It’s Alright?
Fiddle About
Pinball Wizard
There’s a Doctor
Go to the Mirror!
Tommy Can You Hear Me?
Smash the Mirror
Underture
I’m Free
Miracle Cure
Sensation
Sally Simpson
Welcome
Tommy’s Holiday Camp
We’re Not Gonna Take It
See Me, Feel Me

Who Are You
Baba O’Riley
Always Heading Home