Later with Jools Holland, BBC White City, London, February 2008
We won the lottery, or raffle… kind of. Watching Later… was always a pleasure on the BBC, late on a Friday night; you got to see some absolute legends play live, away from studio trickery, and inevitably you would discover some ‘hot new things’ to check out. The show was taped, live, on a Tuesday night, then screened on Friday night, but you could enter a ballot online to be part of the studio audience, and we gave it a punt. Then came the email weeks later - yep, you're in and will be in the studio for Series 31, Episode 4. It was a fair haul out West to White City… beyond my comfort zone out there, and we had to wait ages to get entry to the studio, with endless briefings and instructions - they did drag it out to the extent it was a very late night by the time we got home. The ‘bar’ was not, well, liberal… so no one was tanked, but it was quite cool to be in the studio in a first world country, at the Beeb, where they were making a telly show. The set itself was fairly small, a performance area for each artist faced a central space, and the gaps in between these, around the edge were where we stood & peaked through. The guests that night were We Are Scientists (average college band) Steve Earle (f*cking legend) Aṣa (Nigerian singer, amazing voice), Martina Topley-Bird (better known for her Tricky & Massive Attack collaborations, but great singer), Duffy (small Welsh midget), and MGMT (proto-hipster, psychedlic popsters). As expected, Holland himself was smooth, erudite, and a superb host in this live setting - he really does have a dream job. All the performances sounded outstanding, and went smoothly. Bar Topley-Bird, they were all done in one take. Duffy was particularly wooden I thought - great, great voice, but her stage performance was weak. Steve Earle was magnetic – this guy has LIVED, and it comes through in his personality and music. There is no bullshit with him. However, I think the surprise package of the show had to be the scruffy little imps to our right: MGMT. Within a week, one of the songs they performed ‘Time to Pretend’ went mental in Britain (such is the effect of an appearance on Later… ). I remember reading that the lyric “Let’s move to Paris, shoot some heroin and fuck with the stars” had to be edited from the iTunes preview of the song that was selling like hot cakes - parents were offended. Pretty cool night - more interesting than mind blowing. It was very cool to see how a show like this was actually put together. Thanks, BBC. tune has to be ‘Time to Pretend’.