If you can take a moment to divert your eyes from the outstanding line-up of this week’s edition of Later . . . with Jools Holland, please spare a thought for the punters standing behind the special guests seated at tables.
This was my first visit to the Later studios, and unlike the celebrities, I found myself positioned on the terraces. I have to say it’s something of an endurance test standing for over two hours among several others all trying to get the best view. Perhaps I should have paid more attention at school, as being good at maths was obviously enough to get Carol Vorderman a prime seat on the night I was there.
But what’s a couple of stiff knees when the bands on offer are of this calibre.
Arctic Monkeys previewed tracks from their forthcoming album Suck It and See, which was recorded at the legendary Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. But fears they might have gone all Californian on us were soon dispelled as they launched into the ominous opening riff of Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair. Time spent in the Golden State hasn’t dulled the witty imagery of Alex Turner’s lyrics, either: “Topless models doing semaphore”.
California was well represented elsewhere, however, with LA band Warpaint. Even allowing for my personal obsession with girls with guitars, they were one of the highlights of the evening. I predict big things for this quartet of ladies blessed with ethereal harmonies and prodigious musical skills — not a bad bunch of dancers, either, as they proved during Gappy Ranks’s infectious reggae set.
Nothing or no-one sums up music and California, of course, like the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson. There he was just a few feet away, performing California Girls…
OK, maybe the voice is no longer up to the challenges of Good Vibrations, but the bloke’s a legend, for goodness’ sake, and the enthusiastic reception afforded him by the Warpaint ladies shows the high esteem in which he is rightly held.
As if one legend on the show wasn’t enough, there was also Randy Newman, performing his quirky tunes at the piano and a willing foil for Jools’s irreverent interview technique.
Later . . . is all about diversity, of course; where else would you find Gappy on the same bill as bluegrass star Alison Krauss? Now back with her band Union Station after recording with Robert Plant (who, frankly, she must be sick of hearing about), she performed tracks from her new album Paper Airplane. They were a delight, and don’t be surprised if she adds to her collection when the Grammys roll round again.
Finally, a word about Jools, himself. The man didn’t do a thing wrong all night — good on his feet, as they say in the biz. And given that he was on his feet and didn’t sit down all night either, I suppose I have little to complain about.