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Happy Anniversary!

BBC Music Introducing’s 10th anniversary will be celebrated on 4 October with a special event at the Brixton Academy in London. The night will be live on Radio 1, with highlights on Radio 2 the following day, and 6Music at the weekend. A 60 minute BBC4 highlights programme has also been secured. At the time of writing, I can’t really tell you much about what’s going on because I don’t know anything. Sure, I imagine some bands will be playing and there’ll be some well known DJs in attendance. All of the presenters of the BBC Introducing programmes locally have been invited along, but I do know for a fact that I shan’t be going. I shall be busy at home, in Suffolk. You see, early October also marks 8 years of our programme. With that in mind, we have 2 anniversaries to celebrate, so we thought we’d do something round our way.

From Monday 2 October through to Friday 6 October, BBC Introducing in Suffolk will be live again. 5 programmes across 5 evenings for an hour from 7pm, celebrating those we’ve championed, those we continue to champion, and future champions of new music in the county. It’s been a fair few years now since we’ve been live on BBC Radio Suffolk during a weekday. We began life on Thursday 1 October 2009 and continued each Thursday for a couple of years. We then switched to Friday, and soon afterwards were told that all Introducing programmes across the UK would be moving to an 8pm start on a Saturday. I guess that move gave BBC Introducing a stronger identity, although to this day I find it a bit bizarre that we are sandwiched between Bernie Keith’s Rock and Roll Heaven and Richard Spendlove. They are both very very popular programmes in their own right, and I imagine we’re seen as a couple of maggots eating through a succulent strawberry to some of their regular listeners. To others though, dare I say it, we are a breath of fresh air (or hopefully a breath of that smokey air that comes with a bonfire and fireworks).

One of the best things about being live was the fact that the live music sessions, were indeed, ‘live sessions’ as opposed to ‘recorded live.’ This brought with it – most of the time – a greater energy and a greater urgency. I think it also brought out the very best of the majority of acts that came into our live room. Prego joined us on 5 November 2009 and to say we were sweating prior to transmission time would be an understatement. While the majority of the band had arrived early, singer and guitarist Edd Simpson had a nightmare with traffic all the way up to Suffolk from London. He joined us just moments before we were due to go on air, and there was no time for a full soundcheck. However, when the red light came on at 7, Edd and the band found something from another world. 3 tracks, The Longest Calm, Cause and Resolve and Hiding Places shook Broadcasting House and left us in complete awe. The band would soon rename as Union Sound Set, and all the songs could be found on their debut album ‘Start/Stop’ which I remain incredibly fond of.

Also in November 2009, Walkway rocked and Vanilla Kick (later These Ghosts) chilled our spines. The B Goodes, Millionaires by Morning, Elephant, The Waxing Captors, Lettie and Cathedrals and Cars were among the many highlights the following year. Before long, we would welcome Plaitum into the live room. Back then, Matt Canham and Abi Dersiley were two teenagers of whom I was deeply suspicious. They had uploaded tracks (Geisha, Temptress, Cold nights et al) of the highest quality. How could you sound that good if you were so young? Time to show them up on live radio? Not a bit of it. They excelled under the red light and have since gone on to play Latitude and release ‘Constraint’, a stunning piece of work.

My favourite ever live session though, or at least the session which provided me with my favourite moment since we began, was one involving a delightful chap called Rory and another delightful chap called Ned. Together, they were Rory and Ned. They have released one album to date on Antigen Records. ‘Fighting Music.’ It’s another standout, and while ‘Man Slag’ appears as track two, hidden towards the end of the record is a bonus version of the song as it was played live for us during the summer of 2012.

Neither Rory or Ned would win a singing competition, or standout in a musicians workshop individually with the guitar. Together though, they were something of a force, and they developed a warm and loyal following both in Ipswich and Liverpool, where they had travelled to seek their fortune. Man Slag on the night of their session was beautifully chaotic and shambolic. A gentle start. A new James Dean in a faster car. Then chaos. Drums attacked like a pack of wolves pouncing on a mountain goat. Guitars sliding out and further out of tune. Shouting and laughing and shouting again. Then a gentle finish. Wondrous. The pair had embraced the occasion and went on to perform alongside a stellar line-up at the Royal Oak later that night.

In too short a space of time, truly live music was over as far as BBC Introducing in Suffolk was concerned. Switching to Saturday’s has meant pre-recorded programmes. In many ways that’s good. We can iron out mistakes (we don’t always in an effort to salvage some kind of authenticity) and we can make programmes sound slicker than they actually are. Bands also now get the opportunity to record a couple of takes during a session. Some kind of energy though, maybe even hidden, has been lost. I’m determined that returns, if only for a week, early next month. 5 programmes across 5 evenings for an hour from 7pm. Featuring live bands, playing truly live, and some little known DJs in attendance, partial to the odd blooper.