Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Return of a National Treasure

 Later.. Returns

Last night marked the return of one of the longest running live music programmes.  With its 45th year, Later has rocked up some mileage and still remains relevant and consistent with then new and established artists it showcases.

Last night’s edition was no different with its stellar line up across the music spectrum.  On the show was new acts FKA Twigs, Jungle, Vance Joy.  This week also showcased elder statesmen including O'jays and Ryan Adams along with former Mercury Prize Winners Alt-J.

Leeds Rock trio Alt J opened the show with new bluesy soul cut ‘Left hand Free’ from their expansive follow up album to An Awesome Wave a confident opening statement. There was clearly a Black Keys influence on there but their best song was to come later.

West London production duo Jungle were up next and were probably the most disappointing of the acts to appear. I am a fan of Jungle funky soul throwback sound but ‘Busy Earnin’ felt a bit flat sounded much better on their debut, and the choreography was a tad cheesy more work to improve their live sound and presence needed I think although their sound might be more suited to a festival rather a small studio.

Classic US R&B group O’jays were a breath of fresh air with their ‘Love Train’ some of the best close harmonies on show here and the dancing wasn’t too bad either.The fact they have been together more than 50 years says how solid they are as a band. Its quite some achievement.

Canadian rocker Ryan Adams has been heavily criticized in some quarters of the music press who state that his new material is very like his close namesake Bryan Adams which is a little unfair of how he is now on his fourteenth album and through each album he has progressed musically. However the track he performed ‘Give Me Something Good’ sounded a bit like Bon Jovi and therefore a bit dated his musicianship is still something to admire though.

Then came the treat of the evening from new electro singer songwriter FKA Twigs with a spellbinding performance of ‘Two Weeks’. There are no shortage of female singer-songwriters with their icy vocals and electro production but where she stands on her own is how FKA Twigs is in total command of her performance and artistic identity. With her phenomenal vocal range and her stunning performance she is good shout for this year’s Mercury music prize.

Another suprising low key yet engrossing performance followed with Melbourne Singer Songwriter Vance Joy with his indie pop hit ‘Riptide’. The track has been on the radio for some time and is one of those songs that you constantly hum with its perfect hooks and consistent melody. It was a shame Banks couldn’t make it although maybe one more icy vocal would have been a step too far.

Alt J ended the show with the slightly unsettling erotic ‘Every Little Freckle’ which is another classic to add to their already full roster of ace tunes. Starting off with low key instrumentation building to a choral accompaniment and then back to its intoxicating mix of sounds and textures its blindingly ace and provides an appetizing taste of what is to come when I see them live.

That concludes another packed half hour of Later, despite the mannerisms of its host still one of the best music programs around.
Last nights episode still available on  BBC I Player.

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