Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, September 8, 2017

“I wander in early to work…”

We come in early for TV shows, and spend hours and hours waiting around. We were just here with The Who not long ago, and hopefully you saw those two great performances: one on broadcast, the other was online only. Today is a short detour, a long day spent for just a few minutes’ work, but with the “reach” of television, the time spent is well worth it.

It’s quite a different set-up today as, given that the tour is orchestral, they had to figure out something for the limited stage space and the time constraints of a TV appearance. We hired a medium-sized string section here, younger people with abundant energy. The Roots (house band for the show) are the backing band, and they seem to have learned their parts well. The recent Who day we did here was quite intense, we have a lot of gear and people, for a basic rock band. And while this was technically more people, it was contained into groups (orchestra, Roots, Alfie and Pete.) Each group handled its own issues and made the day fairly smooth.

Again, this is not designed to be rock music – it leans away from The Who tradition into a new range of ideas and formats.

The song is ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ in an edited version – they wanted it within a shorter time frame, so some bits were removed weeks before the show, giving everyone time to prepare their parts, and for the orchestrations to be edited as well. Pete will join Alfie (who normally does this one alone with orchestra) on guitar and vocals. Pete sings just the second verse and chorus.

Jimmy Fallon is truly a warm and honestly positive guy; he’s just like that person seen on camera. He talks to everyone around, doesn’t hide out, works up and in the crowd during breaks. During our rehearsal, his wife and daughters came by to visit. The kids sat at his famous desk and one even started to play with the Classic Quadrophenia album cover they had prepared for use on the show. Alfie sat down with them, too – and one of the girls started doodling on the record. I took photos of this, and normally we don’t show “behind the scenes” of other people shows. But Fallon himself was so happy with the moment that he used his own photos of the kids on the show – so we can show ours here, too.

The performance went well, you can watch it below. At the end, the audience had been interested and excited, but jumped up spontaneously right at the end, moved by this new version of a famous Who track. Pete had sung in chorus two that “this is MY way” – maybe referring to his different vocal style compared to Roger and Alfie’s powerful voices.

We’re excited to be in NY, deservedly one of the great cities. I dropped over to the Hard Rock Cafe and took pics of some of the great Who relics on display – if you’re in town, it’s a nice thing to see, and free – just wander in and around! Likely many Who fans will be out to see this other version of Quad. If you’re a die-hard fan, it will certainly be a very different-but-cool event.

Speaking of NY, shortly after our South American leg, Roger will be here in the northern part of NY State doing some shows in Niagara Falls. I’ll be along for those, too, and blogging, so make a day of it and come out for those!!

Onward . . .