Pete Townshend

Thu, 23 March 2000:

London, Porchester Hall


Join Together, Pure And Easy, Behind Blue Eyes, Let's See Action, Baba O'Riley, Mary, Greyhound Girl, Won't Get Fooled Again, Song Is Over, Join Together, Slit Skirts


Filming for »VH-1 Storytellers«. Baba O'Riley featured Gaby Lester from the London Chamber Orchestra on violin. Pete on piano on Slit Skirts.



The Porchester Hall seems to be an old Victorian theatre, a really nice place. I heard from one of the VH1 staff there were only 215 people there. I had heard the first two rows were reserved, with a few exceptions, to his family and close friends, after the show I knew most of those people were from The Simpsons crew. Wow, I can't believe I was sat behind Homer and Marge! The next 3 rows were for the fans, and all the rest were just "filling" people. So the fans we all knew ourselves immediately, we were 20 or 30 the most. After Bill Flanagan's intro Pete and the same band at the Sadler's Wells show went out. Pete wore an elegant clear suite, I'd say "cream" color. It was basically a Lifehouse show. He introduced Join Together as a song about a female dog, after some speech he couldn't resist and said it's a bout a BITCH. Now he begun to talk about his rap version of Who Are You, which he loves it. He said he understands and loves rap music coz it's a good way to talk or criticize about our lives, and not only for black people, it's a fantastic way to express yourself and say Fuck U, or whatever (the first time he said his favorite F word). Now he explained something that I found important, as we all know the Lifehouse box is not complete, and he admitted it. He said the Lifehouse Chronicles is "a selection of the selected songs". Now they played Pure and Easy. He begun to talk about Behind Blue Eyes, "is a song about sadness, badness, war, tragedy, etc in Europe in the 40's and 50's. In one word it's a song about US". Now he commented an incident in Germany during the Quad tour that some guys went to him and told him it's great that BBE song, that love song about white people, blue eyes, etc. No way! BBE is not a love song, it's a HATE song and it's NOT about white blue eyed people (Aryan ones), it's just about the four of us, that's all. Now he begun to talk and joke with Chucho, who gave a humor note to the show. He also talked about the problems his country (Colombia) is having with coke, crack, etc. Now he introduced Let's See Action saying "This is a song about exhibitionism" He commented that back in '71 after a few attempts The Who didn't want to do Lifehouse, so they just quite. He remembered when he was writing for Lifehouse "it's very easy to write songs". He said something about the people who write music critics, no good at all. About politicians he said something like "it's not worth to waste a word about 'em". Now he begun to talk about Baba O'Riley. First he said the idea to write the song came when he was at Paul McCartney's house playing and listening to music when Paul inspired him for that song! (it was much longer, but that's basically). Then he remembered the first time he saw a synthetiser how amazed he got, and he named the song Baba for Meher Baba, Riley for Terry Riley, the father of synthetisers, and O' to give the song an Irish note. He commented the Sadler's Wells show/s will be webcast probably at the end of April. They went to play Baba O'Riley and he had some words and laughs with Rabbit, then he said: "I hate this man, he always has to tell me what to do!" (put some F words in the middle) At the violin part of Baba Gaby Lester did a great job, she had a big ovation from the audience (and the band) He joked with Chucho again, said "if you wanna see something decorative you'd have to see Chucho's underwear". Now he joked with Chris, one of the cameramen, he said something like Chris played harmonica on Baba... He went to poor Chucho again to comment how they shot the Cyberdiaries, Chucho was following him everywhere with his camera on... Here comes the part where he said: "any question?" First one came from a girl on black and short "slit skirts" (she was just on my right:) but the mic didn't work, so Pete told her to go on stage and she took Pete's mic. I don't remember the question, I think I even didn't hear it cuz I was laughing like mad at that moment (you'd have to see Pete's face looking at her, a shame they edited this part!) When she finished Pete said: "She's a Goddess". I guess that girl took Pete's attention because it wasn't scheduled to play Slit Skirts I think, because all the rest of the show was from Lifehouse. He said he wished he had his piano at that moment, but he'll fix that at the end of the show. Now they played Slit Skirts with Pete at the guitar. I'm not sure if it was before or after Slit Skirts when he talked about the people who experiments the condition of being 34 or so and being with no job, no own family, and how sad is being in that situation that unfortunately there are millions in Europe like that, that feel really fuckin' miserable. He cheered up people who's in that depression and said it's time to be reborn. Here the director or someone else from the program told him: "There's time for 2 more". Pete said: "Two or more?" and continued "In A or G?" Time for another question from the audience. This time a man sat just a few sits on my left asked him something about Pure And Easy, a long question. He also commented the demolition of the Railway Hotel & The Marquee Club in Soho. For a long question expect a looooong answer. Pete just begun to talk about a million things and at a time he stopped and said: "What's the question?" After lots of stories like a woman getting out of car and stepping a dog shit and things like that he started to remember the old days. How his friends Barney, Kit Lambert and some others felt sad when he smashed guitars, while his "alcoholic friends" just put a weird face. He remembers the first guitar he smashed, a 12 string one, an Epiphone I think, and told how the guitar got against the roof... "At that time The Who wasn't a pop band that had a Manifesto like the Sex Pistols, something really new to say, I think we had it but we lost it". "We weren't a successful band, I think we had success for about 6 weeks" Here he said this is an unplayed song. They tried to play Mary. He stopped several seconds later. "No, this is too slow" Second try to play Mary, this time worked. A version that lasted 10 minutes or so. Phil Palmer accompanied Pete in a long riff in the middle of the song that reminded me a lot to the Who Are You guitar riff. After this one came Greyhound Girl. Now picked up another guitar and said: "This guitar is made of two destroyed guitars in terrible accidents". A drop of sweat was falling down his face. Time for the make-up girl do her job, then a joke about Garth Brooks. Now he did some chords that to me sounded to Bargain, a teaser. Now the people of VH1 put all the hall lights on, you know what it means, but Pete just went on. Now he talked and joked about Rabbit, and remembered the first time he met him was in the Rough Mix sessions, in 1976. Rabbit was very happy too, always smiley and laughing a lot joking with Pete. Pete now remembered Won't Get Fooled Again was the first "Unplugged" song he played for MTV. "The song is just to get out of yourself, not about fuckin' politics or psychotherapists, and here's always where the story's over". After WGFA the crowd was stand up clapping and screaming. after a long ovation Pete said: "please don't stand, that's for hymns". Now he went back to talk about Baba, he said he's an "electronicmusicplayer". More swear falling down his face. The poor make-up girl went to him and while she was retouching his face he asked her: "What's your name?" nobody heard the name she whispered him and Pete said: "Betty Page?, that sounds to a pornstar!" Now he talked about Lifehouse and new technologies, he says Lifehouse was a promise about that new technology now we have. "It was an anticipated work" He chatted again for a loong time, suddenly he stopped and said: "I keep losing in track!" He spoke about computers, the internet, he finds all this amazing, but there's one problem: the language. Usually we communicate in English but what if you wanna talk to China or wherever and they don't understand you? "That's why we have music, that's the universal language!" He kept on talking about Rusty's stories till he said: "fuckin' Rusty, let's play something" Then they played Song Is Over. He gave thanks to everybody who was there and everyone at home through VH1, he said it was a real pleasure for him to play there, "it's been like playing in my living room" And they left the stage. After yelling a few minutes they went out again to repeat Join Together, "because it's the noisiest one". Offstage again. Pete appeared all alone and sat on Rabbit's electric piano. He tried to play Slit Skirts and he realized he wasn't ready, so he was rehearsing some minutes before to play it. Then he finally left the stage. 2 hours and 15 minutes had passed. After that the band went out to play, but not Pete. What we saw now is a 45 minute rehearsal of "Rabbit's Band". They made some R&B improvisations plus the beginnings of Pure and Easy, WGFA and Baba. A night to remember.

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Pete Townshend in London