For some time now, I have been happy to see in the New Year with the Jools Holland Hootenanny. Its entertainment value is patchy, but more reliable than the pub, once you are through regarding the pub as a starting point for the evening. And there is always an act worth following up in the new year.
The 2013-14 event, last night, was a bit boring to our tastes and my wife and I found ourselves playing an oldies’ game we always enjoy – naming bands and artists from earlier times which would have done perfectly well if the young upstarts in front of us had never been invented.
John Newman, for example, the new soul sensation from the Yorkshire Dales, is just a rerun of Long John Baldry. Haim, the up-and-coming Californian band centred on three guitar-slinging sisters, reminded us we would probably be better off with Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders. Laura Mvula, although lovely, did not get into a groove we could follow until she did an old Nina Simone number – and sounded like Nina Simone. New Soul stars Charlie Wilson and Emeli Sandé were no improvement on their Old Soul inspirations. And ex-Madness sax man Lee Thompson and his Ska Orchestra were not pretending to any more than straight revivalism with the help of 60s reggae star Dawn Penn, most famous for You Don’t Love Me, No No No – catch them doing it at http://tinyurl.com/n9aaprc/
There were some memorable moments. Haim did a worthy cover of Oh Well, a 1969 example of Fleetwood Mac at their funkiest, which you can probably play from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03nbln0/
if you register with the site. Otherwise, there is a YouTube version of a previous performance at http://tinyurl.com/ksunhzc/
And there are plenty of clips of the Mac version – e.g. at http://tinyurl.com/olssbme/
I also liked Classy Girls, by the Lumineers, an acoustically inclined New York outfit my wife and sister have been recommending for some time. This track convinced me they are right. Hear it at http://tinyurl.com/qz6c4hy/
Lisa Stansfield was okay but did not make us feel too guilty at having more or less forgotten her. Mel Chisholm once again proved herself the most soulful of the old Spice Girls, but did not have to go very far to achieve that.
The Proclaimers reminded us how good Five Hundred Miles was but failed to persuade us they ever did anything else quite as good.
Jools and his band and their regular singer, Ruby Turner, were as good as anything else on the show.