Following the closure of the BBC’s iconic Television Centre this weekend, we thought we’d take a bleary-eyed journey down memory lane and countdown our favourite Later… with Jools Holland performances as the show prepares to move its famous round-room setup to the Maidstone studios in Kent.
For any repeated guest of the show, it must be hard to keep things fresh to audiences already known to you. After all, a large part of the joy of Jools is to discover new acts. But anyone who’s ever seen the constantly-brilliant and frequently-erratic Cat Power will know she has no trouble with this. Delivering a performance somewhere between Chrissie Hynde and Nico, ‘The Greatest’ has been her finest TV moment and remains indeed one of her greatest tracks to date.
Relationship of Command was a raw, frantic album. It’s messy urgency speaking to a new generation of alternate music fans more than any other at the turn of the millennium and their performance on Jools Holland in 2000 solidified why. It’s completely chaotic, out of time, out of tune in parts but my god is it incredible to watch Omar Rodriguez and co excitably jump around that stage, as if it was the heart of the song’s sentiment that mattered, wraught with surreal lyrics and high octane thrills. If you weren’t already a fan, this is what made you one.
Iceland’s Sigur Ros must have given Chris Martin and co a right old fright when they took to Jools to showcase tracks from the faultless and flawless 2005 album Takk. Here was a band wholly perfect for the kind of nature programme and movie trailer soundtracking that Coldplay were raking in the big bucks from, without evoking one to want to rip their own ears out. Sigur Ros nowadays, however, aren’t sounding so delicate…
Before Thom Yorke learnt he could dance, he clung to microphones and guitars in leather jackets and bleached blond hair, inspiring a shift in the introspective, inwardly focused grunge hang ups of the day. The title track from their third full length album, the first to be engineered by long time producer Nigel Godrich, was abrasive, dynamic and marked a change in the band, one evident in this Late Night performance; York’s angst ridden vocals straining over intensely layered, expertly executed guitar wails. Disillusion never looked so inspirational.
With their time-signatures and song structures so dynamic and complex as to warrant the otherwise ridiculous genre tag of math-rock, it was always going to be an interesting proposition to see how Battles fared live on the box. They didn’t disappoint either, with their instantly recognisable high hi-hat and pitch-bending vocals. As a commenter on Youtube so aptly puts it: “I dont do any drugs and I love this.”
Imagine the scene. Bernard Butler had just left Suede, during the recording of Dog Man Star no less. David McAlmont’s pairing for Saul Freeman in Morrissey support act Thieves had just broken up. The logical step forwards; The Sound of McAlmond and Butler,from which ‘Yes’ was taken. The duo’s hit single (charting at number 8) marks a unique moment in the history of 90s music, as soul and proto-brit-pop glam collided on stage with a live string section.
“The next artist hasn’t been on this programme before but he’s had some songs in Good Will Hunting. He performed at the Oscars, had a lot of albums out and just signed a huge deal because his songs are very good,” began a typically succinct Holland in introducing a characteristically anxious looking Elliott Smith onto the show. While not as remembered as his aforementioned Oscars stint, and with obvious good reasoning, this first introduction to British audiences will still be the one to stick in the mind of folk across this side of the pond. Crafting melodic gold out of minimal resources, it was a perfect lesson in “less is sometimes more” songwriting.
While each of these performers are known for other collaborators (McGowan with Kirsty McColl in drunk Christmas staple ‘Fairytale of New York’ and Cave for his bizarre rendezvous with Kylie), this weird but wonderful team up really is a see-it-to-believe-it moment. We can only imagine the chaos that ensued in the green room afterwards…
Who’d have thought it possible to steal the show from Morrissey in the androgynous, awkwardly charismatic stakes? Well that’s exactly what happened when Jarvis Cocker and Pulp shared a bill with Moz on a mid-90s episode, just as they were finally garnering mainstream attention after years of knocking. And it was the time practising for this moment that meant that this well-trained and perfectly executed performance captured everyone’s attention instead.
Before Bon Iver was hanging out with Kanye West, winning Grammy awards and smoking joints with Rick Ross, he was a subject of great mystery and debate. Did he really lock himself in the woods for a whole winter to write an album about an ex-girlfriend who gave him mono? And so on. And this crushing performance of ‘Skinny Love’ by Vernon only helped perpetuate this not wholly accurate tortured myth, often looking on the verge of breaking down but masterfully pulling himself through it to produce a performance that we’re still blown away by five years and about a hundred plays later.