Roadie tells how band scored victory – despite Townshend believing it was one of their worst shows ever
The Who were victims of backstage sabotage ahead of their Glastonbury festival appearance, a senior roadie has claimed.
And despite guitarist Pete Townshend describing it as one of the worst shows they’ve ever played, the tech insists they scored a definite victory.
He reveals that The Who were added to the Pyramid Stage bill at the last moment, “replacing Prince who decided not to come this year.”
Townshend told the 100,000-strong crowd on June 28: “This could have been better, but it’s as good as it can be. It would have been great to have had a sound check and sorted ourselves out before we came out and hit you with all this shit.”
The roadie says in a blog on the band website: “As we began to prepare, we found someone had sabotaged the carefully-tested audio connections for much of our gear. We’ve never seen that before – but we’re good at plugging things in, so all damage was repaired in time.”
He continues: “Within a few songs, we knew something was wrong. The band were playing more than a little loose, rather sloppy in fact. Pete was growing angry right away, yelling at one point that the band ought to play ‘like we’re in the same fucking band’ and telling brother Simon to pay close attention to their sync together.
“Soon after, Pete decided the sound screens in front of Zak’s drums were in the way, and violently pulled them over. It helped, though, and he was more happy for a bit. The audience loved the raw violence of it, a rare display of anger you’d not see at others’ shows. One more reason to see The Who.
“Late in the show, Roger decided he wanted all the screens off the drums, which is generally his own worst nightmare. He likes a controlled sound in his middle zone. The screens are up there directly at his own request.
“After deliberation on whether to follow his orders, we waited till the end of the Tommy set and came out en masse to remove the screens – then Rog decided he didn’t want them taken down! And within a song, he walked right over and then pulled them off himself. Go figure!”
Regardless of Townhend’s comments about a sound check, the roadie says: “It likely wouldn’t have mattered much. It just sounded weird. There were odd echoes making the timings sound off much of the time – leading the musicians all over the place.
“Later he did apologise for his radical behaviour onstage, admitting such a show was a challenge at best. There had been talk that we would never return here again after the last one – not so, very evidently!”
He describes the end result as more dynamic than The Who’s show at Hyde Park days earlier. “Our sound and light experts felt it really worked, with one of the most fervent audiences we’ve ever had, and zillions of them going nuts. Something had to be incredibly right.”
He adds: “A few years ago, we did very, very well during the 12/12/12 concert, and the band received tons of great touring offers just after – all were rejected at the time.
“Following Glastonbury show, similar offers have come in – everyone now realising The Who are still that great live band everyone remembers. Even at a rough one like this! Some serious magic did happen despite all the struggle.”