Wednesday, 3 November 2010

My Night Out at Later... with Jools Holland

How much do you think it would cost to get into a Kings of Leon gig with a capacity of less than 300? And to be just a few metres from Caleb and the boys, how early do you think you’d have to get there? Oh, and you might want to factor into the equation that Eric Clapton’s going to do a few numbers, how does that change things?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Later… with Jools Holland. For the uninitiated, it’s a British television institution now in its 37th series. The premise is simple; a range of bands gather in a room and play a few of their tracks while the ex-Squeeze man compères. There’s the odd interview and maybe a smattering of archive footage, but the show really is all about the music. This may not sound special on paper, but seeing quality live bands on television isn’t that common. While new and exciting music is well-catered for on the radio (and, in particular, by the BBC’s stations), the screen is the airwaves’ forgotten cousin if you’re a music lover.

When Later… is in the middle of a run, it’s broadcast twice a week: a recorded show on a Friday night preceded by a live broadcast on Tuesday evenings. In the studio, the pre-record is done first before the tiny studio goes live to the homes of Britain at 10pm. And it really is tiny - despite being stood in a corner at the back (and invisible to the viewers; I’ve already checked), I was only 20ft away from both Kings of Leon and Eric Clapton.

So, to the line-up. Later… is known for having a diverse range of up-and-coming and established acts, and this week was no exception. As previously mentioned, Kings of Leon and Eric Clapton were in attendance, and they were joined by hotly-tipped rock outfit, The Vaccines, a début UK television appearance from M.I.A. (backed by The Specials), eleven-piece folk act, Bellowhead, and relatively unknown singer-songwriter, Jonathan Jeremiah.

There were few musical surprises when the cameras started rolling - these bands are tight. The Specials have an incredible sense of rhythm that it’s almost impossible not to move to, Jonathan Jeremiah has a marvellous voice and Bellowhead are an incredible live proposition. In fact, Bellowhead were a revelation - think of a 21st Century Pogues but with a brass section and you’re on the right lines. Eric Clapton was the act of the night though, he may be 65 but he showed the stadium-baiting, anaemic Kings of Leon how it’s done and blew away the stodgy, meat-and-potatoes rock of The Vaccines.

Not being particularly au fait with the world of television, the most interesting part was seeing how it was all put together. There’s a large number of people constantly running around and even when acts are playing, there’s more activity at the other end of the studio to prepare the next song. I also had the opportunity to observe how musicians react to other musicians. It’s not often any of these acts stand around in plain view while their contemporaries ply their trade, but that’s the kind of show Later… is. I even devised my own game, “What does Clapton think?” where I looked over to see his reaction as events unfolded throughout the recording. My conclusion is that, like me, he’s now a fan of Bellowhead, but that’s little more than conjecture on my part.

At this point, I’d love to include some startling celebrity revelation that would have publicists tearing their hair out, but unfortunately, no dice. I passed Bellowhead’s Jon Boden in a corridor and saw soul singer Adele having a cigarette outside, but that’s hardly going to keep Perez Hilton busy.

What I can say, however, is how much fun I had and how much I hope to be able to spend another evening with Later… in the future. The show is only as good as its acts but in an age where there’s little music programming on television to speak of, Later… is a show we should appreciate, cherish and enjoy.

1 comment:

Sian said...

It's always good to find new Bellowhead converts. If you liked them you should definately check them out on youtube!