Later…with Jools Holland has, for over ten years now, been the best music show on British television. The format is simple: get about six acts on, arrange them in a circle around the edge of the studio, let the delightful Jools Holland[1] introudce them, do the occasional short interview and sometimes join in on piano.

What makes the show is the calibre of the guests. Very nearly anybody who’s anybody has been on at some point, with a diverse range to appeal to most tastes[5]. Another key feature is highlighting new acts before they become successful. I first saw and heard Franz Ferdinand, who I have mentioned previously, on Later, for instance.

Given that the show has been running for quite some time now, they have built up a superb archive of live performances. And those lovely BBC people are allowing them to be released on an occasional series of DVDs.

The latest of these, Cool Britannia, came out in the UK recently. It runs for over two hours, and includes performances from a range of British acts ranging from Ash to Travis[6], stopping off at Doves, Elbow, Radiohead, and many, many more.

It’s really a quite superb DVD. Where else can you see the amiably bonkers British Sea Power with enough shrubbery to satisfy any number of Knights who say “Ni!”, the Manic Street Preachers giving what looks to be one of the earliest performances of Design for Life, Oasis performing I am the Walrus, a preposterously young-looking Supergrass[9], Keane (like Franz Ferdinand, before they made it big), and so much more.

If you’re at all interested in primarily guitar-led British music of the last ten years or so, you should see this DVD. Buy it or borrow it, but certainly watch it.

[1] Formerly a member of Squeeze, has his own band, played on The The‘s Uncertain Smile[2], presented The Tube in the early 80s, etc, etc
[2] And indeed recreated that performance on Later some years back when The The made a rare TV appearance[3]
[3] First time I ever saw Matt Johnson grinning[4]
[4] Jools seems to have that effect…
[5] This does mean that you probably aren’t going to like every act in every show, but it’s a good opportunity to see and hear some music you might otherwise miss, which has to be a Good Thing
[6] The tracks are sequenced in strict alphabetical order of artist name. Paul Weller comes between Oasis and Primal Scream, and there’s a nice[7] run of bands whose names begin with “The”.[8]
[7] Apart from The Darkness, who are a joke that should never have been let out of the studio
[8] I think that was to avoid any arguments about who was more significant, or whatever….
[9] Hey! Nice site! :grin: