Today marks the return of the UK’s most important music TV show, and no, it’s not the X Factor! Later… With Jools Holland has been an important fixture in the BBC’s schedule for the best part of 23 years and has had 45 series, introducing many of today’s most loved bands to a wider TV audience. Whilst he may be a slightly annoying host, you can’t take away the work that Holland and his show has done for both audiences and bands alike, creating a platform for acts of many varying genres to air their live performances to a television audience they would not otherwise be able to reach!
Over the many series the show has played host to many great performances, most notably for me Radiohead’s rendition of Paranoid Android in 1997 was one of the greatest live performances I’ve seen on television. And that’s the wonder of it, other than the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage and a few other festivals (with Reading and Leeds’ coverage being dramatically cut this year) there are very little opportunities to view live music of the highest order on television. There are no other real shows like it, harking back to the days of the infamous ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ that ran from 1971-87 and definitely has an importance in the music industry.
However during the years it as been on air it has also come in for some criticism with music journalists. One particular example would be the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis, who commented on the shows ‘lack of spontaneity’, criticising the shows pretty much unchanged format. There have also been considerable criticisms of the show’s diversity, claiming that it ‘doesn’t showcase all music’, particularly in the fields of dance, pop and hip hop.
Whilst this may be true, I would argue that its a format that works, and there is only so much you can do in a small Maidstone studio and whilst Jools’ interviewing style may be rather cringe worthy at times, the core focus is the music and thats the way it should be. In terms of increasing diversity, I do in someways, believe that more genres should be incorporated but at the same time, they need to be of good enough quality and not just let any sub standard pop act on. In most cases I feel the genres of dance, hip hop and pop are represented when the talent is there, with Kendrick Lamar due to appear last series and the likes of Disclosure due on today’s show.
Whilst it clearly has its faults, Later… With Jools Holland is an important part of British musical culture and keeps live music in the public eye. With a strong lineup this year (with Foals and The Maccabees set to play the first two shows) I thoroughly recommend you viewing the show (shown every Tuesday, except for today on BBC 2) as it is a great opportunity to explore music and get to see some of the world’s biggest acts cut their teeth on the live stage.