Brian Kehew's Backstage Blog

The Who Hits 50! Tour: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY, May 20, 2015


You’ll see a photo here of the Shriners; each day they sell The Who Hits 50! CDs in the crowd. You get the CD and are entered for a chance to win a poster signed by both Pete and Roger. One a night, limited-edition print made just for these shows, and it’s a cool one. ALL the money goes to charities, of course.


Rowdy here. Maybe the audience is feeling the change – this is one of the last events (Billy Joel after us) to close the present Coliseum, a venerable old place that held many classic shows in the ’70s and ’80s. But it feels old there, and probably could use the $500M rebuild that it will soon receive.

Joan Jett is right at home here, almost literally. We have the feeling these people in NY like her A LOT!


And so, rowdy they were. Long Island, NY; not a shy bunch. Loud and holding signs all around (not something we usually get) with various things. During soundcheck, the VIPs had sung ‘Happy Birthday’ in the distance to Pete, but Roger mentioned that at their age, they don’t always like being reminded! Same for the show, with some songs request and birthday signs also ignored. Probably for various reasons.


Still the high percentage of women and youngsters at these shows, so maybe that’s a continuing trend now. Only a few shows left on this tour leg to know.

One portion of our crew deserves special mention: the Monitors. Monitors are an audio team, they control the sound that the band hears onstage. In a way, there’s is clearly the toughest job; the arrangement for microphones and connections to HEAR all the instruments. Then they send a mix of that sound back to each musician. In the old days, Bob Pridden (with The Who since 1966) ran a simple monitoring system. He’s still with us, running what Pete hears through four wedge speakers on the floor in front of Pete’s microphone. (Bob invented the wedge floor speakers around 1970 for Roger to hear his own singing onstage.) Pete’s the only band member without “ears” – which is what we call earbuds that the rest of the band use. If you ever see Roger fiddling with his “ears”, you’ll know he’s trying to re-seat them for better sound. It can REALLY affect your performance how the monitor mix sounds to you; how much drums you want to hear (anywhere on the stage), or bass or keyboards or yourself. Bob mixes Pete only, while Simon Higgs (Who monitor engineer for well over 15 years) is in charge of Roger and the multiple simultaneous mixes for each of the various band members. His is the large mixer just off to the right. Trevor Waite is our mobile monitor engineer, able to run across stage and work with Roger or the band during the show (Trevor is in a photo here adjusting Roger’s audio pack during the show). He helped save us on a one-time festival years ago and we stole him away for all The Who’s tours since. Both Simon and Trevor have the tough task dealing with the changing needs of a very dynamic band: the audience never hears a bit of what they’re doing, but it’s THE critical part of making the band have a good show. If you float any paper aeroplanes made of money in their direction, they will be received gently! And used on therapy, likely…



Uh-oh! Early on in the show, Roger stopped one of Pete’s introductions to chastise someone in the front of the crowd. Pot smoke was clearly emanating up from the first few rows, and (despite a clear slide being projected on a Very Big Screen before the shows) someone was blowing smoke up onstage. Roger strictly forbid it, trying not to ruin their night, but explained his allergy really mucks up his lungs and throat almost immediately – we could tell. Roger politely suggested they “eat it”, and Pete less-politely suggested they stick it somewhere else. . . . and there it would work faster. Roger said that could be more enjoyable, to which Pete was unsure. Sadly, the smoking continued and the local stoner received one last warning, or the show would stop. At least Roger’s not allergic to beer!




More fine photos from William Snyder coming in, and we’re really saving the best ones for future projects. Great work.

We’ve noticed the whole crowd mesmerized by one video in particular. During ‘The Kids Are Alright’, everyone seems to watch the screen: It’s showing clips from the Quadrophenia film, specifically the mods-on-scooters sequences. It is truly great film to watch Jimmy (Phil Daniels) cruising along the cliffs. With some subtle tweaks, there are ghosts of The Who past floating in the distance, and mod symbols painted on the cliffs. How did they do that? (It’s perfectly suited to the them, unlike our video for ‘Baba O’Riley’, which is a song about an Irish farmer attending a rock concert. So the video shows: computers!)


Toward the end of the show, some of the drum electronics shut off. It’s a “thumper” system that allows drummers to feel bass, like a modern video game seat. Zak did a song or two of Tommy without it (difficult but well-done), while several of the crew worked on the problem. Then just in time for ‘Baba O’Riley’ and ‘Won’t Get Fooled’, half of the system was restored; enough to play solidly to the end. Zak appeared concerned but not fazed, the mark of a good “pro” – as the show must go on, even when it’s not ideal. We have all kinds of tests and safeguards and backups, and sometimes things still go wrong. But in The Who world, it’s usually workable and the audience never notices a thing!

Onward . . .


Tonight’s Set List

I Can’t Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
Squeeze Box
I Can See For Miles
My Generation
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
I’m One
Love, Reign O’er Me
Eminence Front
A Quick One, While He’s Away
Amazing Journey
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again




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