Oasis, Amy Winehouse, Paul McCartney: Jools Holland Picks His 10 Most Memorable ‘Later…’ Performances

Over 20 years and 46 series’ ‘Later…with Jools Holland’ has become a UK TV mainstay, showcasing the best in music with a wildly eclectic line up of artists, old and new.

Jools thinks the show performs a vitally important function – providing a platform for a host of different types of music who aren’t very well served by any other programme.

He says: “It’s important to have a mix of things. So we want to have a new artist, we want to have someone who’s big right now, we want to have a legend, and then maybe one or two artists who are well known in their own world – folk, African music, whatever their own world is,
but they’re not known to the broader public, Buena Vista Social Club being one example of an act that weren’t well known but now are. There’s no other home for them on television – there’s things like ‘TFI Friday’, but they only want things that are popular at the current time. We’ve captured a lot of things that won’t get shown anywhere else.”

But when it comes to choosing his favourite ‘Later…’ performances for, he is at pains to point out this isn’t necessarily a definite list, just a selection of performances he’s enjoyed over the years. “You can’t have a favourite Top 10,” he insists, “It would be like children you’d be leaving out in the cold or something!”

Nevertheless, he manages to pick out 10 that he recalls for various reasons, along the way stopping briefly to marvel at other legendary performances such as At The Drive-In (“a good example of how camerawork can really capture the essence of a band”) and The White Stripes (“they were great”). Anyway, here goes:

1 and 2. Blur and Oasis

“I enjoyed it when there was the imagined gladiatorial thing of Britpop. Their performances then were great – Blur are still great now – because they had an edge of excitement to them because it was something new being born, and there were also loads of other bands that came from all that who were also very good. I remember when Oasis first came on, and Paula Yates (Holland’s former co-host on legendary ‘80s music show The Tube) she wanted to come and see them and be their mate. That was a very exciting time.”

3. Gladys Knight

“I’d always really loved Gladys Knight so when she came on, you know, I’d been to see her at Lewisham Odeon when I was 14. In the mornings when I’d be getting up for school her records were on. I loved Motown and all that stuff, so when she came on there was some mix-up. She wanted a band, then she didn’t, then it was just me and her at the piano and then I started playing – we did ‘If I was Your Woman’ – and up ’til then she hadn’t really been Gladys and then
she suddenly started singing and she was suddenly this voice I’d been hearing all my life. I was like ‘Woah! This is great!'”

4. Paul McCartney

“Artists that come on who I’ve grown up with, there’s a certain resonance. You could say that about Gladys and certainly Paul McCartney. My mum showed me how to play ‘Lady Madonna’
on my nan’s piano. He’s been on a few times, and one time he said he was going to do ‘Lady Madonna’. I said ‘I know how to play that, it goes like this’, but he said, ‘No, it doesn’t’, and there’s a little twist of the finger…you think you know something, but there’s a little trick, a little twist!”

5. Sleaford Mods

“They came on the other week, and they were so charming. I love them. There was something about it. And what was really great about it was the other artists looking on quite mystified. It reminded me of a lot of things about Britain, like the Miners’ Strike. If you were American you wouldn’t have a reference point, it would be mystifying. It’s great to have that voice – it’s been missed.”

6. Smokey Robinson

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LswORBE1Wic

“My guitar player Mark Flanagan couldn’t come because his mother wasn’t well, so I rang Eric Clapton and unbelievably he could come, which amused my guitar player having him
as a stand-in. Then Smokey didn’t turn up till the last minute, just before we started. And Eric was like ‘Where is he?’ and I said ‘He’ll be here in a minute’. It was quite tense but it was great, what a thing. And my guitarist said, ‘Yeah, he’s good, get him in again if I can’t do it!’”

7. Portishead

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmgYBFRXsUQ

“It’s important to know the camera what some people are doing, and some it doesn’t. In the room I’ve seen some performances that are amazing but when you see it back you think ‘Oh, we didn’t quite capture that.’ But sometimes it’s the other way round. When Portishead performed I thought it was good but when I saw it back it was amazing. On TV it’s been one of the best things on the show but in the room you wouldn’t have known that.”

8. Amy Winehouse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV4ytI0ZgHc

“The likes of her and Adele’s performances will have a very long shelf life because of YouTube – their views go into the millions. Essentially because it’s artists doing something that’s real. Amy did a duet with Paul Weller with my big band, they did (jazz standard) ‘Don’t Go To Strangers’ – he did the first verse, she did the second and we were both like ‘What??!!’ It was like Dinah Washington, or Bessie Smith or Edith Piaf, the biggies. The awful thing is she would have gone on to be one of those people.”

9. Richard Hawley

“He was great. I loved having him on the show. He had the idea at the last minute of doing ‘Memphis Tennessee’ with Tom Jones, a Chuck Berry song. I love it. He is a great guitar player and he’s got a great voice. He used to come and play with us at the Leadmill in Sheffield 25 years ago!”

10. Ruby Turner

“On the Hootenanny she does the Thomas A Dorsey blues song ‘Peace In The Valley’ and it’s great, and we were trying to work out what everyone else was going to do and Paul McCartney just stepped in and said ‘Ruby sings the song and we all just sing the backing vocal’ – because it was him everyone agreed, and only he could do that with his largesse.”

NME: And after working with her for so long, you’ve finally done a record together…
“We do it all at my South London studio and it’s been based on a lifetime of work. We’ve spent the last 20 years touring together. She never gets the acclaim she should have. She’s the queen. I love her. She sings the church as well as the blues. She realises that early gospel and blues is the same thing, the thing Ray Charles got in trouble for early in his career! When people sing the modern blues, that element doesn’t come out.”