14th March 2018. The first day of a new look BBC Radio 2. Clearly, it’s going to take some time for Jo Whiley and Simon Mayo to bed in. But the new host of The Blues Show, Cerys Matthews, seemed to have a much smoother introduction. Yes, there were a couple of nervy moments – a mistaken reference to Radio 3, and a slip of the tongue with ‘sitting in for…’. This latter mistake at least gave her a chance to thank previous host, Paul Jones, for his generosity when the two met at an awards ceremony recently. We would have expected nothing else from the grand master of 30 years presenting this mainstay Monday night programme. And he will have no worries about it continuing for another three decades with Cerys at the helm. For despite the initial, and understandable, nerves, she produced a fabulous first show. The big, bold and pronounced sound of Billy Boy Arnold with Sweet Miss Bea was a great introduction to this new era for the show. And with a simple ‘Welcome to The Blues Show’, it was straight into the next song. Matthews’ sultry tones are perfect for an early evening under the setting summer sun. Yet her insistence on fitting in as many songs as possible from across the blues spectrum shows that the music is always going to be taking centre stage. And that’s just how we like it. For this first show, she played everything from Sister Rosetta to Muddy Waters, Little Richard to Sir Tom Jones. The latter also happened to be her first guest. The fact that they know each other so well meant that there was an easy-going chemistry between them. Having heard Jones speak about his blues influences before, there was nothing particularly new to be learnt here. But it is always great to hear the Welshman reminisce about his time with Elvis. The ease with which Jones and Matthews interacted was perfect for the overall tone of the show. With Matthews’ close and intimate voice guiding us through proceedings, this is definitely a show that feels like it’s been simmering away in a slow cooker, making for a delectable listen when it’s served up at 8pm on a Monday evening. To that end, I look forward to many more servings to come.
To listen to The Blues Show, click here.