Festivals

Knowsley Hall -- The Who prove they're still the best

Michael Bonner

"You couldn't bury 'em, could ya..?" So says a genial Scally, somewhat glassy-eyed after an afternoon on the booze and on the scrounge for a cigarette.

He talking about The Who's opening salvo, and admittedly he's got a point. The first five songs of tonight's set reminds us, no argument, quite how hard The Who can rock. "Can't Explain", "Seeker", "Anyway Anyhow", "Fragments" and "Who Are You?" are dispatched with brutal, exciting efficiency, what seems like the whole of Quadrophenia beamed onto giant satellite screens on either side of the stage.

Roger Daltrey -- whose voice has been somewhat suffering from the band's punishing touring schedule -- still belts them out, his passsion undimmed by having played these songs for 20, 30 years.

Pete Townshend remains the most exciting, passionate and dynamic guiatrist around, equalled only by Keith Richards.

Townshend's lengthy digressions between songs are frequently hilarious, if not a little bonkers. Introducing "Good Looking Boy" -- which strangely resembles Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" -- he embarks on a lengthy discourse about Elvis, while he claims before "Relay", that "I wrote this song about the Internet in 1971, so give this old fucker some credit."

The choice of songs is faultless. "My Generation" ignites a volley of good-natured bottle throwing from the Liverpool contingent. Elsewhere, we get "Baba O'Reilly", Roger doing some phenomenal damage to his harmonica, "You Better You Bet", "Won't Get Fooled Again", an incendiary "The Kids Are Alright", "Pinball Wizard" and "See Me Feel Me" all may be knocking on for quarter of a century or more, but they're still peerless -- fantastic tracks from one of rock's most iconic bands.

Someone's just told me that the helicopter currently taking off from nearby is Roger, being airlifted out. I expect nothing less from the great man.

Join us tomorrow, for fun and games with Madness, the crazy world of Joss Stone and the mighty Keane, no doubt preparing as I write to rock out with the best of them.


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