Saturday, March 22, 2008

Later... with Jools Holland

I recently discovered this awesome BBC Two live music show on Fuse, where it airs weeknights at midnight weekdays at 8am and suffers from really horrendous trims to make room for more of our wonderful American commercials. (It celebrated its 200th episode in February.) I didn't know a British music show could be this cool. I thought all their music shows were like the terrible Top of the Pops. I stand corrected, after catching Later... and VH1 Classic's reruns of The Old Grey Whistle Test.

I love the circular set-up of the studio--each episode opens with the camera circling the studio to introduce the guest acts as they all participate in a jam session--as well as the cutaways to a guest performer dancing to another guest's number. Where else can you see Cee-Lo from Gnarls Barkley grooving to Franz Ferdinand or Thom Yorke rockin' out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

Certain songs sound better live. I thought the Chili Peppers' 2006 hit "Dani California" was an alright tune, even though it was overplayed that year, but now I like it even more after watching the Chili Peppers perform it live on Jools Holland:



I didn't know Franz Ferdinand could be this good live:



Now Later... is how you do a music show, whereas Top of the Pops--a show that was made for Ashlee Simpson--was the opposite. The Top of the Pops producers forced their acts to lip-synch or sing live against pre-recorded backing, so the producers frequently wound up with disgruntled bands that plotted to make their show look stupider than it already looked, like when Morrissey lip-synched into his gladiolas during the Smiths' "This Charming Man," or when Nirvana basically told the producers to go fuck themselves by giving a hilarious "performance" of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," one of my all-time favorite TV moments. The best part is Dave Grohl's fake drumming.

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