[8 July 2008]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Sundance Channel’s Live from Abbey Road has returned for a second season. The popular original series once again features rehearsals, interviews and performances set inside the legendary London studios. One of the biggest strengths of the show is that it features such an eclectic mix of artists from many genres, and at all points of what is considered a successful career. Mid-career bands mingle with up-and-comers, and lesser-knowns are alongside legends.
Episode four, airing this week (Thursday, July 10 at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific), showcases Stereophonics, Colbie Caillat and Joan Armatrading. Diversity like this is not easily found at a summer music festival, let alone on your television schedule! It’s interesting to see how these artists react to being in the hallowed Studio 1, and although they are being followed about by what must be an enormous production crew, the entire affair feels very intimate. The best thing about this show, for me anyway, is that the joy in the performances is quite evident, as is the fact that the interviews are freely candid—no rehearsed and rehashed sound bites here! Personally, I loved episode four because I grew up on my mother’s Joan Armatrading albums (and it’s great to hear her discussing guitars in detail!), and I’m a massive Stereophonics fan, but I also enjoyed the exposure to the soulful, singer/songwriter stylings of Colbie Caillat, with whom I was previously unfamiliar.
Live from Abbey Road has a little something for everyone, it seems. Casual viewers, music lovers and even the featured artists themselves (in episode three Panic at the Disco were obviously pleased to be able to perform a stellar cover of the Band’s “The Weight”, while this week, Caillat warms up with a brief, impromptu version of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” that clearly thrills her.). If each episode is as consistently as good as this one, Sundance Channel may have to expand the series beyond its 12-part format.