The breakfast club: Music Week's verdict on Lauren Laverne's new 6 Music show

Lauren Laverne

Not for nothing did Lauren Laverne’s debut BBC Radio 6 Music breakfast show kick off with Starfish And Coffee, Prince’s tale of super-eclectic breakfast ordering.

Because in a morning radio landscape full of flashy fast food outlets and traditional greasy spoons, Laverne’s first day set out her stall as the equivalent of an artisanal café setting up on the High Street, purveying “butterscotch clouds and a tangerine” as a menu item. Although, thankfully, she skipped the side order of ham.

After Laverne’s “hello music lover” greeting, the show duly opened with a string of artists you’re unlikely to hear anywhere else on the dial at this time of day: Thundercat, The Fernweh, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Digable Planets and Julia Holter, proof that Laverne’s leftfield spirit will survive the move from mid-morning.

Not until MIA’s Paper Planes arrived was there a track that you’d call overly familiar, although Laverne let the listeners take over a ‘Cloudbusting’ section from 9am (“Bring the bangers to me and I will serve them to you for breakfast,” she chuckled) which brought the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Florence + The Machine under her umbrella.

But if the music was occasionally heavy, Laverne followed the Alan Partridge maxim and kept the chat light (“I’m just going to play loads of really good music”), at least until the listeners’ tales of how they first fell in love with 6 Music started flooding in amidst the first day introductions. Radio listening might have more competition than ever but somehow it’s hard to imagine people doing that for a streaming playlist.

Such heart-warming tales of festival mishaps and music discovery are Laverne’s speciality, of course, and she duly coaxed some Glastonbury 2019 details (Janelle Monae to headline the West Holts Stage! Block 9 to expand!) from her guest Emily Eavis in a cheery chat that oozed pure enthusiasm for music on both sides.

The music industry will be hoping that passion can develop the show into a platform for breaking the alternative music so often sidelined by those pesky streaming services. To that end, While You Were Sleeping will highlight new music that’s dropped overnight (in today’s case, Lizzo’s Juice).

Previous 6 Music breakfast shows have occasionally channelled early morning grump but Laverne brought plenty of PMA to proceedings. Unlike most breakfast show offerings, which tend to operate in snack-size sections, it seems more like a show to be listened to in full (hence the numerous plugs for the BBC Sounds app).

There’s no shortage of fresh choices at breakfast in UK radio right now and – with Zoe Ball starting on Radio 2 next week and Chris Evans on Virgin Radio the week after – competition is fiercer than ever. But Laverne’s show – skilfully curated, wildly eclectic, yet easily accessible – already sounds like the breakfast offering the alternative nation deserves. Same time tomorrow, then?

* To read our recent cover story with Lauren Laverne, click here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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