Glastonbury Festival, England, 1992
"As you know, we're a casual bunch..."
Call Mr Lee
In My World
No Glamour For Willi
See No Evil
1880 or So
(CD also includes I Don't Need Your Lovin' Anymore)
The newly-reformed Television play the Glastonbury Festival. For those of us in the UK who couldn't believe our luck, this was An Event. Which meant that, through a combination of circumstances, naturally I couldn't get to see it. Which was a blow as, listening to this, it sounds as if everyone including the band was having a great time. Everything is relaxed with Verlaine chatting and joking (nervously) between songs.
The main drawback is the quality of the recording - it sounds, at times, as if it was recorded by someone in the next field along. Either the guy on the sound desk was having a bad day or the person taping it managed to get as far away as possible from Richard Lloyd's amps, because Lloyd's guitar is almost inaudible half the time. (It's rather like listening to one of those 'play-along-with' guitar tutor tapes - you know, the Clapton-kind-of-thing - where you get the rest of the band with one instrument missing. You get to imagine the Richard Lloyd guitar parts! Which is a shame because the obvious gaps this leaves are more than noticeable - once again you remember that this wasn't just Verlaine's band.
After a kind of free-form section which bears a remarkable resemblance to the last section of "Marquee Moon", it's straight into "Glory", a relaxed version in which Verlaine and Lloyd loosen up a little and you can just about hear Lloyd's break. There's a fine "Venus" on which the playing is excellent and "Prove It", on which they do, and which they probably play even better than they did fifteen years before. It's on a song like "Call Mr Lee" ("whoever the hell that might be!") that the sound quality is most frustrating because you know Lloyd's there but you can't quite hear him.
Half way through, the sound balance improves for "In My World". Both guitars are audible in an extended intro before the vocal comes in and the whole set kicks onto another level. Billy Ficca is playing up a storm. Again, Lloyd's guitar is too low at times but Verlaine holds the song down with the vocal and guitar fills. When Lloyd's guitar does kick in, it's suddenly great. The louder you play it, the better it is!
"No Glamour For Willi" (which, for some reason, cuts at the best bit) is the first time that the familiar Verlaine guitar opens up and begins to explore the sound. "See No Evil" (announced as "another old-eee!") is Television in full swing and Lloyd's solo is as cutting as the one on "Marquee Moon". Once again Ficca is spot-on.
But the best thing here is "1880 or So". Why does this always sound better live? There's great guitar interplay where Verlaine and Lloyd are really together. Ficca and Smith hold down a solid, clean bottom and Verlaine and Lloyd plug into whatever it is that connects them at their best in a great extended section in which they explore the steady rhythm and play around with it, cutting and slashing through it, and Ficca tunes in and plays with them. They sound as if they don't want it to end any more than I do.
This is nothing like as good as, say, the Living Arts show and there isn't much of the wonderful guitar playing that you might hope for. But it shows Television at ease with themselves and each other, still bringing new things to their old songs and opening up their new ones.
Man Of The Match: Billy Ficca.