Friday Night Live is a live BBC show hosted by Jonathan Ross that first aired on BBC 1 in the UK in November 1995. It is a long running live BBC Radio show featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra. The programme now boasts a worldwide fan base, with listeners tuning into the programme in more than 180 countries. It was created by controller John Thompson and was one of the few shows to feature both live and recorded music.

Jonathan Ross starts his Friday night gig in the BBC studios as usual

making his way to a hastily arranged studio following a late night recording session. Despite the unusual location, he quickly gets to work, starting with a wide variety of jazz, rock, soul and classic pop songs before going into more experimental territory with the eclectic dance music which forms the core of Friday Night Live. The musical style of the programme has always been distinctive, with a distinctly 1970s London attitude to it, including guest spots from such unlikely people as the Voodoo Child, the Sex Pistols, the Police and Blur. The original version of the programme featured only the music from this concert, however, and was a major commercial flop, prompting a second version which included more music from other artists and was broadcast in the US and UK.

The band for the first week of the show, featuring Don Henley, Tim Rice and David Gilmour

They gave a remarkable performance, as expected from any act on an international stage, but there was something else that they brought to the evening. They brought a unique blend of experience and humour to their live sets, especially their cover of the oldie classics. The set list also featured a number of classic tracks from The Beatles. A notable presence during the show were the sounds of the Maharajah of silence, played each week during the first week of the series.

The next series of concerts, featuring David Bowie, AC/DC and Oasis were wilder and more adventurous than the previous concerts, and seemed to demand more live content from the audience. More adventurous, less mellow, more strange and far more original. What a difference a Friday night with live music makes! It is amazing how the slightly damaged yet vibrant image of David Bowie can be resuscitated by a group of young, carefree rebels who transform him into a figurehead for their music – even if his music remains forever beyond their reach.

The Saturday night show was the show to behold for those fans who had made it through the first week with their live music tastes unspoiled. This was where the real show began, with a masterclass performance from the original Queen, backed by Paul McCartney and John Entwistle. There is no mistaking the sense of fun and frolic here – Queen’s performance of “We Are the Champions” still gives you a shiver. The crowd, which is made up almost entirely of teenagers and youngsters, seem genuinely enthused by their second verse. A truly memorable night out.

There are many more nights to come in this series of popular music events. Performers include The Rolling Stones, The Who, David Bowie, The Beatles, UBK, Skid Row, Cream, Rod Stewart, The King Kong Chorus, New Order, Cheap Trick, Skid Row, The Dead Stones, Black Sabbath, John Peel, Paul McCartney and many others. You do not need tickets to attend these shows, but if you have them, you will be part of an event that is the talk of the town for the rest of the week. Don’t miss it.

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