Palma Violets’ Sam Fryer On Why The Who Should Be Celebrated, Not Criticised

Palma Violets’ Sam Fryer has been a fan of Roger Daltry and co from an early age. Here he explains why, contrary to some people’s claims that they’re a safe, boring booking, they’re a spectacular Sunday night headliner for Glastonbury…

My earliest memory of The Who is the footage of them playing at Woodstock. I probably prefer their early stuff but that really stuck out for me. I think they played ‘Summertime Blues’. That whole film got me into that era of music. It’s one of my favourite films. Just having The Who playing at 4am in the morning, you can see the blue tinge of the sky as the sun is coming up. That’s missing in rock and roll today; bands playing at any time they want.

They had the perfect dynamics – hero on guitar, hero on the mic, hero on the drums. They were all heroes, man, individually, arguably the best in music. Individually, each of them is arguably best in their field. John Entwistle was a mean machine; he was like a bulldog. Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey – not bad. Then there’s Keith Moon, you don’t have to give him any introduction. They were definitely one of the first bands to really ignite that flame of what we now consider rock and roll. Keith Moon knocking down the drums and setting them alight, there aren’t many bands who had brought that to the mainstream before them. They were the first to start that whole rock and roll frenzy. They were pioneers in that field. A lot of people probably did it but they brought it to mass attention that rock and roll is something completely dangerous as oppose to the shine and chic.

People thought at first that we were punk. Obviously punk influences us, but we write pop songs, we write love songs and things like that. That’s similar to what they did, but they did it with a ferocity that got some people offended, but it also spoke to some people, and it definitely speaks to us. We don’t strum or pick, we hit the guitar. Their rock operas didn’t speak to me as much. I’m more into the Kinks-y kind of operas, the more political ones. I had the ‘Quadrophenia’ album from an early age, but I found it very hard to comprehend to say the least.

If these are their last UK shows it’s good to go out on a Glastonbury performance, but you know with all the things these rock and rollers tell you that you have to take them with a pinch of salt. But it’s going to be a great occasion for the band. I severely doubt that this is going to be their last show, but if it is, it won’t be a tragedy because they’ve had an astounding career. They’ve got a good shot at stealing Glastonbury. You’ve got Kanye, but I think they’ve got the songs. People will go along thinking that it might be a nostalgic experience. With the other two acts, they’re not my sort of thing, but The Who’s songs speak for themselves. They’re going to smash it. I’m excited to see it. It will be live to the world on the BBC and hopefully will speak to a new generation of kids who are like I was a long time ago watching that Woodstock documentary. It really changed the way I thought about music and what I’d been brought up on.

Their best songs

Definitely their best song: an absolute pop classic. It’s hard to make a pop song sound that fucking cool. The Who were the first of what eventually became punk rock. Sex Pistols used to cover ‘Substitute’ in their early shows. They hit their guitars with such ferocity. They were some of the first people to start doing something a bit out there, that was rebellious in a pop format. They’re not punk, they didn’t start it, but they were definitely on the lines. It’s something that we do in our music.

Baba O’Riley

This is going to be one of the greatest. That’s their festival song, so seeing them perform that at a festival is something I’m very much looking forward to. It’s got one of the best intros. It’s almost like ‘Sweet Jane’ but on a synth at the beginning.

I Can’t Explain

The first song that spoke to me is ‘See Me, Feel Me’, but the one that really spoke to me was ‘I Can’t Explain’. Another pop classic. Hopefully they’ll have the backing vocals. The Who know how to do a good harmony, which is something hopefully we can achieve. They are so good at it. I find it so exciting to watch the old footage, when none of them could even grow beards.”

Won’t Get Fooled Again

It’s massive. We actually covered that once, early days. We never performed it at a show but it was one of the early songs we learnt to play together.