Sunday, 26 April 2009

Later...with Jool Holland (Series 34, Show 3 - 21st and 24th April 2009)

Another week, another Later...with Jools Holland on the BCC. From the start of this weeks Tuesday show it was all about Madness. Jools walked into the studio with Suggs by his side. looking as perky and mischievous as ever. After enduring The Specials and their very uncomfortable comeback, I was looking forward to hearing some new stuff from the legends. I was also looking forward to Bat For Lashes. Other than that I went into the week not knowing the rest of the line-up.

Tuesday (live)

Madness - Dust Devil
Hockey - Song Away
Bat For Lashes - Daniel
Madness (Chat with JH)
Yusuf - The Rain
Everyone - Happy Birthday (for Mike)
Oumou Sangare - Sounsoumba
Madness - Embarrassment


Madness - Forever Young
Bat For Lashes - Daniel
Hockey - Too Fake
Yusuf (Chat with JH)
Oumou Sangare - Sounsoumba
Yusuf - The Rain
Madness - The Sun And The Rain
Bat For Lashes (Chat with JH)
Hockey - Song Away
William Elliott Whitmore - Old Devils
Madness (Suggs and Woody chat with JH)
Bat For Lashes - Sleep Alone
Oumou Sangare - Seya
Madness - Clerkenwell Polka

Madness kicked off Tuesday with Dust Devil - a new song from new album The Liberty of Norton Folgate, sounding as good as ever. Plenty of brass and Suggs on top vocal form. Not the best the band have done but ok. Friday opener was Forever Young - slower mid-tempo number trying to break the usual mould. They closed Tuesday with Embarrassment and performed The Sun And The Rain on Friday, showing that they can still churn out the old hits. The latter was a bit 'sax heavy'. Jools spoke to Suggs and Mike on Tuesday and showed some footage from 1980 of a very young band, comedicly miming to Baggy Trousers. It was Mike's birthday on Tuesday - and the Queens, and Iggy Pop's! On Friday Suggs was joined by Woody to talk about the new album and London, and the disastrous Danger Men project - Madness in disguise so well that they went unnoticed. It is revealed that Woody is running the London Marathon this year. Jools encourages them to take part in a sing-along at the piano in the old tradition. Mixed results. The band closed Friday with Clerkenwell Polka which didn't quite work but the sped up ending was great. For me, it's not enough for me to rush out and get the album. But good to see them back.

A new American band Hockey got a headline slot this week, making their TV debut. This came as a huge surprise to me mainly as I had never heard them. The band was very interesting and they tried their best to inject some energy into a laboured Song Away. Benjamin Grubin's vocals reminded me of the early 1990s and all those generic new-wave bands. On Friday Too Fake sounded horribly familiar and I realised I had heard it before. The live version sounded more funky and less structured. Grubin is an enigmatic lead singer, if a bit mad. He looks and sounds like he is permanently in 'stroppy teenager' mode.

Bat For Lashes, AKA Natasha Khan, sounded amazing. Her vocals were a bit over-produced but sometimes you want your live acts to sound like a studio track. Daniel was supremely delivered - one of the best singles of this year and destined to be a performance of this series. Khan's band helped her out with exquisite backing vocals. As for her own vocals - haunting and flawless. Jools grabbed her (literally) for a chat and she talked him through her set, including a Marxophone from 1870. She gives a demonstration. Second song Sleep Alone is a great example of the quality of the new album Two Suns. Again her vocals are perfect. But only two songs? Such a shame.

Yusuf Islam, who has now sadly dropped the 'Islam', AKA Cat Stevens was back with new songs from his new album. He is very intense and deep these days and singing about doom and gloom and his voice is lacking hope these days. It is still stirring stuff. The Rain is dramatic and biblical (or maybe Qur’an-ical). He spoke to Jools about making music in the 60s and what it was like. "When the world goes bad, it creates the ambience for talent to rise up", he says. Behind all the depth is a real humanity and a genuine humility. Jools played a clip of Father & Son - a classic beautifully performed. He is working on a new musical called Moon Shadow and this is generating more music and his first albums for 28 years. Shame he only got one song to perform.

Following on from last week, Oumou Sangare from Mali brought some Wassoulou to the show. It is African jazz-funk. It is great that Later still draws world musicians but a bit more variety would be nice. Sounsoumba on Tuesday and Friday and Seya (was the laughing part of the song?) on Friday was a nice introduction but not much to work with. It is, however, engaging stuff.

Jools' surprise guest was singer and guitarist William Elliott Whitmore, providing some deep south American roots. His voice is an acquired taste but you can't question his powerful delivery - social, political and earthy.

A good show in the end. Madness were excellent with the perfect mix of old and new. Bat For Lashes was superb and had the audience in the palm of her hand at every performance. Hockey were good, as was Yusuf and Sangare. William Elliott Whitmore was the surprise antithesis of Yusuf. It was a shame that it was such a packed show and there wasn't enough time for additional songs from some artists.

Next week is Depeche Mode and Lily Allen…and Sonic Youth! Should be interesting.

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