It’s a tradition as old as the Johnny Carson show: Most nights, since 1966, bands big and small play on the national stage of late night television. Sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen, but the performances are always worth watching. They’re captivating mostly because they offer the raw sound of a live band and the professional video and audio recording of a late night television show.
This week’s TV lineup reinforces the idea that has emerged over the past month: Late night shows love legacy artists. While there’s always a healthy dose of new acts in the lineup (Kacey Musgraves, Alice Russell, and Icona Pop), most of the slots are dominated by artists that are either returning for second, third or fourth albums (Ben Harper, Phoenix, Zac Brown Band, Band of Horses) or from apparent retirement (Johnny Marr, Cheap Trick, Iggy and the Stooges, who quietly released The Weirdness in 2007 and are resurfacing with Ready to Die).
Late Show With David Letterman
Musgraves shares tales of the trailer park on her latest album, Same Trailer, Different Park. We can only hope she brings her pink flamingo to the Ed Sullivan Theater.
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Monday, April 29 – Zac Brown Band
Straight from his headlining gig at this past weekend’s Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California, Zac Brown is bringing his Southern-fried sound to Kimmel. Maybe Ashton Kutcher will even show up in support.
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
The classic rock band is celebrating the 35th anniversary of their At Budokan performance. And somehow still, hearing those guys play “I Want You To Want Me” never gets old.
Thursday, May 2 – Awolnation
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Angular guitar legend Johnny Marr has been working nonstop since his stalwart days in the Smiths, but the recent release of The Messenger marks Marr’s first foray into true solo album territory. Like many of other acts on this list, Marr has been playing for decades now, and his proficiency will, at least, be fun to watch (and hear).
Monday, April 29 – Old Crow Medicine Show
Old Crow Medicine Show have long been responsible for heralding pop-minded bluegrass to the un-country-minded folks of Greater America, and for good reason: Their banjo picking and foot stomping recalls days of real songwriting ingenuity. Calculated pop-folk has witnessed a real resurgence in the past few years, but Old Crow Medicine show are the real deal.
Tuesday, April 30 – Paramore
Monday, April 29 – Iggy and the Stooges
Iggy Pop has been making music for a long time – like, 50 years. He’s had some tough luck bringing that experience to a solid album project, but there’s one thing that’s certain: Iggy always puts on a heckuva semi-nude show. Tune in for lots of tanned abs and preening sneers.
Wednesday, May 1 – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Saturday Night Live
Saturday, May 4 – Of Monsters and Men