Seeing ‘Top of The Pops 2’ before Christmas and watching Bowie's cracking lost performance of Jean Genie reminded me how much I used to love watching live music on the TV back in the day. Nowadays it seems to have become a lost art. Certainly there are very few good places for live music on the box, and definitely not many that are 'cool'.
In the UK and Ireland there are very few outlets for bands to perform live. It must be why there is a mad scramble to get on the ‘X-Factor’ or even ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (the two biggest shows on TV in the UK). Record companies pay big money just so their acts can appear; it really has become a desperate situation. I find it a bit galling when some of my favourite bands perform on these shows but I suppose what choice do they have? Well they could always keep their dignity and appear on other more credible shows…but what shows are there?
It’s a long time since the heady days when ‘Top Of The Pops’ went 'live' for a few years or ‘TFI Friday’ with Chris Evans was bringing back the live music show with passion. In the 80's the ‘Tube’ had some great live performances. Not every show back in the day was great of course. ''The Word' ran for five years in the early '90s and was cringe worthy at times but had some superb moments; from L7 getting nude to Nirvana singing Smells Like Teen Spirit on their first international TV appearance…and Kurt Cobain announcing that Courtney Love was the “best fuck in the world”. You wouldn't get that on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ now would you?
What now? Well Jools Holland is still keeping his great ‘Later’ show going after twenty years…but what else? The internet has taken over I guess. Now anyone can upload a video of them singing and post it on 'You Tube' no matter how shit they are. Don't get me wrong, it is great that any singer / songwriter can do that but oh for a music show with edge...a music show where no one is afraid to go for it and show a bit of attitude. Bowie was one of the finest and pushed the boundaries. That really is not going to happen in front of a clone audience who download that week’s latest sensation and nothing else. I mean can you seriously imagine Dylan or Cobain on 'X-Factor'?
So what about the future? Interestingly there may not be such a thing as TV in the future…and the near future at that. Instead of a TV and a computer there will be one device that is connected to the web and you watch the content you want, when you want. Let’s face it we are nearly there now. Even when this happens across the board will there be a place for new live music to be heard? Will there be a show where musicians can go to display their wares but do what they want without being censored? 'You Tube'? Well yes, but that seems to becoming more and more censored, more companies cracking down on what is shown…sometimes rightly sometimes not.
I love live music, always have. As more emphasis is placed on it, I would love for a show with attitude to not be scared and show all types of music. Any show that isn't afraid to be what it is and not worry about sponsors or upsetting people would be fine with me.
I may of course be missing put on such programmes. There may be lots of such places. Places where live music is shown without worrying about itself too much....if so anyone care to point me in the right direction because I have a feeling I am missing out...at least I hope I am.
This particular blog entry was chiefly concerned with the UK and Ireland's live music programmes. If you have any thoughts on programmes from the rest of the world then please let me know.