Audience members are quickly processed through security, before being directed to the aptly named holding pen.
There’s a small bar, nothing much to eat and not enough chairs for most people to sit down; a false economy for a show with an all-standing audience where, according to Keith the warm-up man, someone collapses and requires medical attention almost every week.
Keith is a former lorry driver and has a veneer of friendliness, but gives the impression that if you step out of line he will take you outside and personally pulverise you.
Despite all this the atmosphere is ripe with anticipation. After all, this is a chance to get on the telly and see some top acts for free!
At around 8pm we are ushered through to the studio. Again, this is meticulously organised. On arrival a numbered, coloured sticker is put on your tickets, and this governs where you are placed in the studio.
The audience stands on tiers in the four corners, and we find ourselves between Tame Impala and Moon Hooch. This turns out to be a pretty good spot, giving a close-up view of two of the night’s most impressive bands.
Once in position we are exhorted first by Keith, and then by Jools, to play our part as audience members in making it a great show.
Jools’ arrival is without fanfare; one minute he’s not there, the next minute he is. The artists are already in position, and he greets some of them on his way in.
At 8.30, recording of the Friday night show begins.
This is ‘as live’, with every artist taking their turn to play in the sequence we see on TV. Jools’ introductions are held up on a big board by the camera – no fiddly autocues to go wrong here.
The studio crew whizz around between acts, the camera operators being particularly adept at speeding backwards. This sounds high risk but it isn’t, because everyone knows exactly where they’re going.
No-one makes a single mistake, and no second takes are needed.
We get a few minutes to sit down, then we’re all up again for the live show at 10 o’clock.
Most bands repeat one of the songs they performed earlier, although Moon Hooch make the brave choice of going for something different, though equally strange.
So what of the music? Biffy Clyro are muscular and predictable, and couldn’t be more different from the atmospheric sound and introverted song writing of James Blake.
Michael Kiwanuka‘s ‘Black man in a white world’ sounds like one of those songs you’ve known forever, while Moon Hooch sound like nothing on earth, particularly when they use several stuck-on traffic cones to boost the sound of a saxophone.
My favourites are Tame Impala, acid rock trimmed of its excesses and distilled into four minute pop songs.
Did I get on the telly? Yes – my eagle eyed kids spotted me when Jools introduced Lera Lynn.
The BBC may try to hide us behind younger, better looking people but the Indie Dads are always there, lurking in the background.