Uncut Editor's Diary
'Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday. . .'
I haven’t been drinking, and I’m not being merely mopey or hoping that someone with the right kind of clout will read this and give me as a result of what I’m about to say a substantial pay rise – I really mean it when I say I can’t think of a better job than editing Uncut.
Sure, some days it’s nose to grindstone, not exactly shifts at the coal face or the biscuit tin factory, but hard enough work in its own way. But most days of most weeks, it really feels like the best job in the world.
I mean, take today. I’ve just come back from a lunchtime press conference at somewhere called The Hospital in central London, where The Who announced the dates for their 2007 European tour, at which the band – or what’s left of the original line-up, namely Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey - played a four-song 20-minute acoustic set and then hilariously fielded questions from a motley cross section of journalists that suggested they may somewhere in the past have missed parallel careers as a comedy duo.
After some apparent technical hitch that had serious-looking boffin types muttering mysteriously into various miniature microphones and tugging at the leads, wires and connections necessary for the performance and simultaneous webcast, the right plug seemed to find the appropriate socket and into the large converted exhibition space where a small stage had been decorated with The Who logo and two chrome and leather stools had been placed, in walked Townshend and Daltrey, Pete picking up an acoustic guitar and provocatively announcing “a reactionary rock’n’roll song about bringing back the Conservative party and elevating racism and Nazism”.
Cue a furious “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, Townshend giving the guitar a fair hammering, and Daltrey delivering the kind of vocal delivery often described as “blistering”.
It was about 12.30 at this point, and it struck me as unlikely that either Townshend or Daltrey has played this early in the day to an audience since they went on at Woodstock , just as the sun was coming up.
Anyway, back at The Hospital, Townshend is telling us why they’re here.
“Basically,” he says, “Roger wanted to prove to you cynical press people that he can still do this.”
“Do what?” Daltrey wants to know.
“What you’re doing.”
“I just didn’t want to have to sit at a table, answering stupid questions,” Daltrey admits, people in the audience closing their notebooks quietly.
They then play, beautifully, “Behind Blue Eyes”.
Townshend follows this with a very funny account of the recent South Bank Awards ceremony, at which he sat next to conceptual artists Gilbert and George. The Who had been presented with an award, before which clips of them in their 60s prime had been shown.
Upon resuming his seat, Gilbert – “the extremely faggy one,” of the famed artistic duo, according to Townshend – had said something to the effect that in the slides just shown Pete looked young and beautiful and now looked old and rather resembled a vicar.
“I said, ‘You little cunt, that’s how I may look now, but you’ve ALWAYS looked like a vicar.’”
Townshend and Daltrey then play “Mike Post Theme” and “Tea And Theatre”, the poignancy of the latter’s lyrics seeming for a moment to get to Daltrey, who by the song’s lingering climax seemed visibly moved by what he’d been singing.
As lunchtimes go, it went. Brilliantly.