Sunday, 19 April 2009

Later...with Jool Holland (Series 34, Show 2 - 14th and 17th April 2009)

I was hoping for much better things from this weeks Later…with Jools Holland. If not great music, some decent entertainment would be nice.

New band Noisettes took a prime spot and opened Tuesday‘s live show, proving that either the BBC are getting desperate or they are genuinely putting faith in new artists. But it was Doves who showed some real class with lead singer Jim Goodwin looking and sounding more and more like Guy Garvey (Elbow) at every performance, as the band showcase the new album Kingdom Of Rust. An ethnic feel this week was added by Rokia Traore, a wonderful singer from Mali. There was also a return for Madeleine Peyroux and Marianne Faithfulll.

On Friday’s show, a real treat: Grand Master Flash!

Tuesday (live) show
  • Noisettes - Don’t Upset The Rhythm
  • Doves - Kingdom Of Rust
  • Rokia Traore - Zen
  • Marianne Faithfull (Chat with JH)
  • Madeleine Peyroux - Instead
  • Marianne Faithfulll - The Crane Wife 3
  • Doves - Winter Hill
Friday show
  • Doves - Kingdom Of Rust
  • Noisettes - Don’t Upset The Rhythm
  • Marianne Faithfull - Hold On Hold On
  • Grand Master Flash (Chat with JH)
  • Rokia Traore - Zen
  • Madeleine Peyroux - River Of Tears
  • Joe Bonamassa - Lonesome Road Blues
  • Doves - Winter Hill
  • Marianne Faithfull - Come And Stay With Me
  • Noisettes - Never Forget You
  • Marianne Faithfull (Chat with JH)
  • Rokia Traore - Tounka
  • Marianne Faithfull - Dear God Please Help Me
  • Doves - 10:03
Doves sounded great, with Kingdom Of Rust delivered like the band has never been away. Fantastic guitar work and dark brooding vocals from one of Manchester’s best bands of our times. Winter Hill, closing the show on Tuesday, builds from a guitar driven opening into another immediate classic. Great stuff. They closed the Friday with 10:03, a slow building guitar epic, transforming into furious bass funk and crashing drums. A competent preview of a good new album.

Noisettes put on a good show - a weird ramshackle bunch of musicians but actually just a three piece, like a modern M People, the lead singer performing on a heart shaped platform and switching to the stand on the drum kit. Don’t Upset The Rhythm sounds a bit dated, but then most things do these days. Never Forget You is a bit Motown and much better 60s style pop. Singer Shingai Shoniwa dons a bass transforming her into a statuesque presence.

Rokia Traore was enchanting and mysterious, her band an incredible mix of jazz funk, soul and African rhythms. I would rather listen to this all show than most of the new stuff the well established British artists are peddling at the moment. Tounka was amazing, Traore on guitar ans showing Shoniwa how it is really done. Really powerful music with her vocals and her band giving it everything. Could be the performance of the series.

Madeleine Peyroux this time round was more like Devon Sproule, at the mic with a guitar for Instead. She doesn’t look entirely comfortable but then again her voice is an acquired taste and never puts you at ease in the first place. The arrangement of Instead is a bit twee but conjures images of dusty sunsets and campfires out on the plains. River Of Tears is a slower more captivating piece. This is music to get lost in. Peyroux’s vocals are much more solid and controlled these days.

A big surprise was a turn from singer and guitarist Joe Bonamassa which suffered horribly from Jools stomping all over his great work with his usual piano - he managed nearly two shows without getting stuck in. It was pretty standard modern rhythm and blues fare with at least one stolen Clapton riff (who was mentioned in the introduction and then in a brief chat later). An attempt to get things moving, it ended up a bit messy, and apart from a wonderful guitar break late on that could have gone on for days, and nothing special, which is a shame.

Marianne Faithfull, who I hoped wouldn’t sing, unfortunately did. Jools talks to her first about her new record and showed some footage of the singer at her haunting best - when she could get away with her unique voice . And to accompany this she advises new musicians to be themselves and not copy people. Complete with lyric sheet, which was a constant distraction, The Crane Wife 3 and Hold On Hold On were performed with spirit and a steely determination but was well past her best vocally. She now sings much deeper which is horrible. Come And Stay With Me was better but vaguely out of tune at times. And this is the problem with Jools. He believes in legends. Legends that never die. Legends that can go on forever. I would have thought he would have learned from the Glen Campbell ‘issue’ last year and countless other old-timers trying to recapture the glory years. The BBC needs to get better at working out who still has it and who doesn’t. As horrible as that sounds, no one wants to see and hear someone struggling. Dear God Please Help Me is appropriately named. A great song, brilliant guitars, awful vocals.

Jools also interviewed hip hop legend Grand Master Flash which was much more natural and entertaining. Yes he has a new record to plug (everyone does) but he has a genuine passion for a musical genre that has been ridiculed in the past twenty years. There is some great archive of Debby Harry rapping. He performs in the second half. I say performed, the piece has no name and was a glorious mix of old-school scratching with proper vinyl! Absolutely amazing skills and a demonstration of how it should be done.

Another mixed bag, both good and bad. Doves excellent, as is Madeleine Peyroux and Rokia Traore who put in the best performance of the night with the powerful Tounka. Noisettes are entertaining even if their approach doesn’t work and Faithfull was exactly as expected. At least her band were good. In the end GMF almost stole the show…


Kyle said...

It is fine that you don't like Marianne Faithfull's current musical output, that is your opinion, but you needn't pretend that your opinion is the one and only correct one, and that the only reason she might be on Jools is because she is a "legend" that the BBC is clinging to. Perhaps Jools, like me, and countless other people (and reviewers- have you seen the reviews for her new album?) think she is still a talented, interesting, and unique artist that we continue to enjoy. It is possible that your opinion is not the only one.

Chris said...

I agree, this is my opinion. That is what this blog opinions. It's fine that you agree that MF is still great - my review suggests that she is long past her best as a live performer. I mean she can't even remember the lines to her songs and this makes for an uneasy performance.

I have not seen reviews for her new album. Maybe she is still great on CD. I will find out.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments.