First thing’s first: I’d like apologise for my tardiness in putting up this week’s Later… With Jools Holland review. Since last week’s exhilarating combination of Hugh Laurie and Jools behind a piano I have developed heart arrhythmia. And while my doctor my heart wouldn’t be able to take the excitement of another bout of Jools’ patented boogie woogie, I had to give the people what they want. Hopefully this week’s lineup of Franz Ferdinand, Goldfrapp, Gregory Porter, James Blake, Chas & Dave and Radkey won’t break my achey breaky heart.
Kicking things off are Scottish indie rockers ‘The Archduke’ Franz Ferdinand. (seriously how many people in a year 9 history lesson were told smugly by their teacher ‘Franz Ferdinand aren’t just a band you know!’).
Cast your mind back to 2004. Friends was just about to end, Arsenal were still winning trophies and Franz Ferdinand were poised to take over the world. Big hits ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Dark of The Matinee’ saw their self-titled debut reach number three in the charts and be certified Platinum a whopping four times.
Fast forward to 2013 and Franz Ferdinand have released their fourth studio album, Right Words, Right Thoughts, Right Action to little public acclaim; the popularity they once held whittled away from a largely disappointing third album. It stands to reason that Alex Kapranos would try to sonically replicate their debut, to try and reclaim the creative momentum that this afforded them. Based upon this performance, it is clear that whilst they have not repeated themselves; tonally, this is a return to 2004. Full of swagger and frenetic energy, ‘Bullet’ is a song that moves at the kind of speed Franz Ferdinand did back in the day.
Up next is jazz singer Gregory Porter, performing ‘Liquid Spirit’. Greg gets the crowd going with some nice rhythm… OH MY GOD JOOLS IS PLAYING PIANO AGAIN. WHERE ARE MY PILLS?
After a mild heart flutter, I composed myself to sit down and watch one of the most enjoyable performances of the series thus far. The heavyset double bass player taking the E-string for a walk, a couple phrases of scat vocals, some absolutely outrageous piano; this is just a jazz flute and a moustache away from .
Before I can say “aqualung” it’s time for ‘electronic’ duo Goldfrapp. Performing ‘Annabel’ from their new album Tales of Us, it seems that Will and Alison are going for a far more stripped back version of themselves than we’re used to. Replacing the synths that made them famous with violins and acoustic guitars, the vocals are still undeniably Alison Goldfrapp’s. With her breathy and whispery vocals over some rather lovely string arrangements, this many not be as electric as Goldfrapp circa-2003, but it’s an accomplished foray into a new sound.
Up next are rambunctious teenage punk brothers Radkey, playing a song who’s name I didn’t catch on screen nor could I fully comprehend live. It didn’t surprise me to find that these chaps are aged 15-19 (this makes me feel incredibly old) as this was a youthful performance both in its exuberance but also its lack of ANY refinement.
I think it’s fair to say that I have a very complicated relationship with Later. I look forward to the varied performers that are booked for the show, but I can also appreciate how poorly it functions as a live piece of television. Case in point? This week’s interview with ‘Rockney’ legends Chas & Dave. Firstly, Jools rarely asks any kind of question that is more taxing than “What’s the name of the album?” or “What’s 2+2?”. Secondly, a 90 second interview, no matter what the quality of question, rarely produces a nugget of information that is genuinely interesting. What did we learn from this Chas & Dave interview? The album is named after a line from a song. Pointless.
Perhaps to placate me after the vacuous nothingness that was the Chas & Dave sitdown, we now have two-time Mercury nominee James Blake performing the beautiful ‘Retrograde’. Blake was at his brilliant best, delivering an understated, beautifully crafted performance that made me question why he was only allocated one sing in the live broadcast.
Thankfully, Chas & Dave are back to perform rather than field inane questions from Jools. Performing an old ditty about a crook called ‘Railroad Bill’ from the Ol’ South, it seems both Chas and Dave have decided that they are now from Tuscoloosa, Alabama rather than London Town. I’m not sure how they thought they could sneak these accents passed us, seeing as they’ve been singing like geezers from the South Circular for the passed 50 years.
Franz Ferdinand are back to round up the show with the brilliant ‘Right Action’. With catchy sing-along refrains, absolutely stonking riffs and the kind of shirt that not even Mark Lawrenson would wear, this performance should remind people why Franz Ferdinand were as huge as they once were. By far the most enjoyable ending to the show we’ve had this series.
Despite all of the heart-stopping Jools action of last week, this was undoubtedly the best Later… of this series. Franz Ferdinand and Gregory Porter brought an undeniable energy that when mixed with the quiet brilliance of James Blake and Goldfrapp made for a delightful episode of Later…
Catch Later… With Jools Holland Tuesdays at 10pm on BBC2.