The band also paid tribute to deceased bandmates ahead of Glastonbury appearance on Sunday
The Who paid tribute to late bandmates John Entwistle and Keith Moon as they headlined Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time at London’s Hyde Park on Friday (June 25).
The band also dedicated their 1967 single ‘Pictures Of Lily’ to Paul Weller, who played immediately before the group, as he will when The Who headline Glastonbury on Sunday.
Earlier this week, guitarist Pete Townshend announced that he expects The Who to end this year, 50 years after their debut single ‘I Can’t Explain’, although he added that he may well continue to work with singer Roger Daltrey under a different band name. Following the show’s final song ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, Townshend referred to the band’s anniversary and told the crowd: “We didn’t think we’d last until the end of the week when we started. There were punch-ups every day. But then we lasted a year, and here we are. And you’ve been there for us.” When the crowd began The Who’s signature chant of “We are the mods,” Townshend said: “You’re not Mods, you’re all too old to be Mods. We are the sods.”
Before ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, which was released as a single in 1971, Townshend paid tribute to the band’s late bassist John Entwistle, who died of a heart attack in 2002, and drummer Keith Moon, who died of a drug overdose in 1978. Introducing bassist Pino Palladino, Townshend said: “Replacing John Entwistle was a hard job, as he had such a unique style. But this guy is probably the best bass player in the world today.” Introducing Zak Starkey, the former Oasis drummer who is the son of Ringo Starr, Townshend said: “You’ll have seen pictures of Keith Moon on the big screen behind us tonight. When I see them behind me, I miss him terribly. But before Keith went, he gave this guy a drumkit, so in a way Zak studied at the feet of the wanker.”
The Who’s set began with the big screens displaying a pictorial essay about the band, including sections dedicated to their previous shows at Hyde Park, the story behind their trademark “target” logo and a history of guitar smashing, which Townshend popularised in the 1960s.
Before opening song ‘I Can’t Explain’, Daltrey told the crowd: “You’re all a long way away, but we will fucking reach you.” Introducing 1965 single ‘The Kids Are Alright’, Daltrey initially said it was dedicated to Paul Weller, saying: “This song is for a special friend. I don’t usually do requests, but this for Paul Weller, who asked us to play it.” However, Townshend interrupted Daltrey to announce: “I thought we were playing something else.” A laughing Daltrey confirmed his mistake, saying: “I fucked that up. I write these setlists the night before a show and always forget them. That time of my life when I forget everything is sitting on the doorstep.” Townshend told Daltrey: “You’ve been saying at concerts recently that I wrote this one for you. But once you write them, they don’t belong to you anymore, they belong to everyone. And I reserve the right to sell them to car companies. Until I do, this one is for you. It’s ‘The Kids Are Alright.’”
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Next song ‘Pictures Of Lily’ was actually the track Weller had requested, which Townshend revealed by saying: “Paul Weller brought back interest in the Mods and we’re honoured to be playing with him. He requested this by email. We haven’t played it for a few shows, so it’ll probably be crap.”
The big screen mainly showed Pop Art-style cartoons, but black-and-white footage of The Who playing a club was displayed during 1965 single ‘My Generation’, while a message asked fans to hold up lighters during 1971 single ‘Behind Blue Eyes’. Daltrey, wearing purple-lensed sunglasses that matched his shirt, played a harmonica solo during 1971’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ and banged two tambourines together in 1969’s ‘Sparks’. Townshend demonstrated his signature windmilling guitar style throughout the two-hour set.
Stars watching the show included Lionel Richie – who plays the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on Sunday – plus former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, Stereophonics singer Kelly Jones, former England international footballer Ian Wright, TV host Fearne Cotton and actress Leslie Ash.
As the band left the stage, Daltrey said: “What a wonderful evening, what a wonderful city. I can see a lot of people have travelled from many countries to be in London tonight and we welcome you. We congregate. We don’t come to concerts, we come to fucking congregate.”
Before The Who’s show, Paul Weller was joined by Miles Kane to play guitar and sing on The Jam’s 1981 single ‘That’s Entertainment’, one of three Jam songs during Weller’s hour-long show along with ‘Start!’ and closing song ‘A Town Called Malice’. Opening with his 1995 single ‘The Changingman’, Weller played five songs from current album ‘Saturns Pattern’ including new single ‘Going My Way’. He barely spoke between songs, announcing: “We’ve only got an hour, so we need to pack them all in.”
Kaiser Chiefs played the main stage before Weller, with singer Ricky Wilson announcing before recent one-off single ‘Falling Awake’: “We are contractually obliged to play you a new song to make some money for the management. But we think it’s quite good, so win-win.” Introducing 2004’s ‘Na Na Na Naa’, Wilson told the crowd: “We appreciate that not all of you know our songs. You’re here for one band and one band only, The Who. We’re going to make it easy. This chorus is just ‘Na na na naa.’” The band often cover The Who’s ‘Pinball Wizard’ in concert, but Wilson told NME before their hour-long set: “I don’t think that would go down terrifically well for us if we did that today.”
Johnny Marr played before Kaiser Chiefs, mixing five songs from his solo albums ‘The Messenger’ and ‘Playland’ with Smiths songs ‘Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before’, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ and set-closer ‘How Soon Is Now?’.
Marr also covered The Bobby Fuller Four’s ‘I Fought The Law’, as popularised by The Clash. Marr told NME after his set: “It’s Mick Jones’ 60th birthday today, but I forgot to announce that. But I hope Mick would have enjoyed it.” After a fan yelled out a request for Marr to play Mumford And Sons’ ‘I Will Wait’, Marr said: “That is not my song, sir. That’s by one of those bands with beards. Do you see any stubble on this stage?”
The main stage had been opened by Gaz Coombes, with the former Supergrass singer focusing on his current album ‘Matador’. Coombes had flown by helicopter from Glastonbury to Hyde Park, having appeared on Chris Evans’ Radio 2 show broadcast from the festival. He is due to travel back from his home in Oxford to Glastonbury to play the Park Stage on Saturday.
Other acts across the festival’s two other stages included Sleaford Mods, The Rifles and Sugarmen. Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time is headlined today (Saturday) by Taylor Swift, backed by Ellie Goulding, John Newman and Vance Joy, while Sunday is a childrens’ event with music by Union J.
The Who will headline Glastonbury on Sunday, having cancelled a sold-out show in Paris when they were announced in April as the final headliner to join Florence And The Machine and Kanye West on the Pyramid Stage. They last headlined Glastonbury in 2007.
The Who played:
‘I Can’t Explain’
‘Who Are You’
‘The Kids Are Alright’
‘Pictures Of Lily’
‘I Can See For Miles’
‘Behind Blue Eyes’
‘You Better You Bet’
‘Love Reign O’er Me’
‘See Me Feel Me/Listening To You’
‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’