Here we go. It’s time for the second episode of this series of Later… With Jools Holland. After last week’s drab affair I’m cautiously optimistic that this week’s lineup of Janelle Monae, Pixies, Chvrches, Barrence Whitfield and The Savages, Tony Joe White and an interview with House will pique my interest. Also, there was a distinct lack of Jools playing some of that patented boogie-woogie on the jazz piani (piano) last week. I hope this is addressed imminently.
Up first is R’n’B sensation Janelle Monae playing ‘Dance Apocalyptic’. Janelle is in typical energetic form opening the show screaming ‘I am the electric lady‘ as she dances, runs and basically contorts her way around the studio. Throw in a snazzily dressed band and some grooving backing singers and you’ve got everything you need to kick things off in style. Monae’s joie de vivre seems to have rubbed off on Jools, who is simply gushing with enthusiasm for the night ahead.
And who could blame him? I mean, PIXIES are playing next, fresh off the release of EP1, their first new material since 2004. If that’s not something to be enthusiastic about, I don’t know what is.
Of course, all this excitement is stymied by the elephant in the room. The absence of Kim Deal makes this whole performance feel a bit empty. On the surface ‘What Goes Boom’ feels like a Pixies track. It’s raw and abrasive, the kind of track that should take on a whole new life, live. But without Kim, it just isn’t the same. (Also it doesn’t help that the sound levels were noticeably out of whack during this performance.)
Before I can lament Deal’s absence for too long, it’s time for Glaswegian synth sensation Chvrches. Playing ‘The Mother We Share‘ the trio put in the most charming performance of the evening. With an infectious synthy pop beat (reminiscent of a very stripped down version of The Knife) and beautifully stripped back vocals it’s pretty hard not to fall in love with this song. Much like Lorde last week, this performance will have bought Chvrches some invaluable popularity.
Holy shit it’s time for an interview with Bertie Wooster! For those of you who are wondering why Prince Ludwig the Indestructible is on Later…, Hugh Laurie (yes I do know his actual name) is a rather wonderful blues pianist and is here to promote his new album Didn’t It Rain.
Let’s ignore the interview (Jools is many things, but an engaging interviewer is not one of them) and get to the point: JOOLS IS FINALLY BEHIND A PIANO! HUGH AND JOOLS HOLLAND ARE PLAYING PIANI! Whilst the whole experience was somewhat ruined by Jools counting down how much time we had left for the segment, that was quite possibly the most exciting minute of my life (I’m not sure if I’m being sarcastic or not).
After all that honky tonky tomfoolery Barrence Whitfield comes crashing the party with some meaty rock’n’roll riffs. Performing ‘The Corner Man’ with recently reformed backing band The Savages, Whitfield’s move from soul and R’n’B to hard garage rock feels a bit paint by numbers. The obligatory guitar solo and heavier bass lines feel tacky and forced, and while Barrence growls with savagery, something about the performance doesn’t quite gel.
Up next is Tony Joe White performing ‘Who You Gonna Hoodoo Now?‘ Despite the minor hitch of a misfiring amp (this has to go down one of the most awkward moment in Later… history) nothing seems to phase the stoic Tony Joe. Tony’s so stoney faced and still I’m not sure if I’m actually watching A Weekend at Tony’s. The performance itself? The man is clearly a masterful guitarist and I truly am a sucker for some bluesy harmonica, but this sombre affair never really picked up after the ‘technical difficulty’.
She’s come all the way from ‘Atlanta, Georgia,’ to give us the funk. That’s right. Janelle Monae is back and I’m not entirely sure she’s aware she’s in a TV studio in Maidstone. Performing ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ you’ve got to admire her ability to muster up the energy to treat this like a real gig. Vocally she hasn’t put a step wrong (although again, this is tough to appraise as the sound levels are a bit off) and has put on a show.
It’s good to see that someone read my post from last week. Rather than take a page out of Sting’s script about ships or whatever, Pixies are only bloody playing ‘Wave of Mutilation’ aren’t they! Whilst the wave doesn’t hit you as hard as it once did, it’s still a raucous and punchy way to bring the episode to it’s climax.
Despite all of the technical issues, this was a thoroughly enjoyable edition of Later… Pixies played a hit, Chvrches were endearing and Janelle Monae was as electric as she proclaims. And above all, Jools did what he does best, stepping behind the piano and showing off.
Catch Later… With Jools Holland Tuesdays at 10pm on BBC2.