Masters of the live hip-hop mash-up, The Roots, displayed their usual relaxed attitude when asked to comment on events at their first headlining show at Glastonbury this week. Early on in their performance, a member of the audience managed to get up on stage and gained control of a working microphone, through which he continued to shout tunelessly over the rest of the otherwise impressive performance.
“That sorta thing happens a lot at college gigs,” commented keyboard player Kamal Gray, “When he started out by trying to do some sucky singalong English indie band thing, we thought it was just a kid who couldn’t handle his liquor. Then he started shouting about a ‘bitch’ and we figured it was some drunken crazy who’d grab the mic to cuss at his ex-. I mean, this brother was so out of it he thought we were some kind of Beatles tribute act. But, pretty soon, we checked his face and we could see his was kinda older and we knew we’d seen him before. It was more like the usual uncle-at-a-wedding thing, y’know?”
Indeed they had seen their uninvited guest—later revealed to be a fellow American, one Shawn Carter—before, and, familiar with his somewhat basic obsessions, they applied their talents to the task of integrating his often bragging and abusive outpourings, to the extent that the most of the audience of thousands, many of them unfamiliar with black music, believed they were intended to be part of the show.
Congratulated at a subsequent press conference on their ability to improvise under difficult circumstances, Gray replied: “Yeah, it was a strange night in a lotta ways: great marquee, man, perhaps the best we’ve seen; but no cake-cutting, no first dance for the bride-and-groom, and no Come On Eileen. Hey, whatever happens, the show goes on, y’know? We’ll be at Southend Working Men’s Club next week. Check us out, y’all!”