In a special evening of programming, Radio 1 paid tribute to the late, great John Peel last night, culminating in a three and a half hour live show from the BBC’s renowned Maida Vale studios.
The evening began with an hour long documentary celebrating his extraordinary life, including tributes from The Undertones, **Siouxsie Sioux, Underworld, and many more. It ended with DJ sets from Coldcut, Dave Clarke and The Orb’s Alex Patterson.
DiS was there at just after 8pm when Steve Lamacq introduced PJ Harvey who played three acoustic numbers to a packed Studio 3. The show reflected Peel’s eclectic programming, taking in Belle & Sebastian, who debuted three new songs, grindcore merchants Trencher, cult indie folk heroes Hefner, and a highly anticipated set from The Wedding Present, their first in seven years.
Blur’s Damon Albarn & his estranged bandmate Graham Coxon also appeared, albeit playing separate sets. Both took in each other’s performances, and both played acoustic versions of tracks from the 1997 album ‘Blur’. Albarn & Coxon were seen chatting to each other during the evening perhaps confirming a reconciliation.
Peel’s wife Shelia and family mingled with the audience alongside, among others, Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell, Aphex Twin aka Richard D James, The Undertone’s Fergal Sharkey, and Radio 1 DJs Edith Bowman, Zane Lowe, and Colin Murray.
Artists appearing on the show chose a record to be played on air: Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch asked for 'I Ludicrous'_ but got Public Enemy's ‘Bring The Noise’. There was a moving moment when Shelia Peel plumped for Amsterdam’s ‘Does This Train Stop On Merseyside?’ which she introduced by saying “John loved this record because it always reminded him of his beloved Liverpool but when he played it I always had to go and give him a hug because it made him cry.”
A special report on Peel Night from Maida Vale can be found here.