Jools Holland And His Rhythm And Blues Orchestra perform at The Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham on Saturday 8th November 2014

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra brought the greatest boogie woogie party to The Royal Concert Hall last night and from the first it was clear that Jools Holland and company intended to take no prisoners. He opened with a barnstorming boogie and when the full band entered the fray, the result was an explosion of styles and excitement. It was impossible to sit still for long because within seconds the infectious rhythms seeped into your soul and your body started to move involuntarily.

The fifteen band members and two backing singers were out to have a good time. With big smiles on their faces, they were versatile, entertaining and sensationally good. Under Holland’s direction they played everything from blues to jazz and boogie woogie. There was a spot of big band, a slew of reggae, a big fat dollop of soul and R ‘n’ B, some scorching gospel and a generous helping of rock and roll.

Jools is not a man to hog the spotlight and he generously provided moments for all his band members to shine. Each solo was followed by a name check which is why the majority of his orchestra have a long history with him. His backing singers were also given their own spot, with Mabel Ray delivering a soulful Sweet Bitter Love and Louise Marshall showing us how Valentine Moon should really be sung.

Much as the stars flocked to appear with Morecombe and Wise back in the day, it seems that you’re not anyone these days until you have done a number with Jools backing. And so it was that a gleeful Marc Almond bounded onto the stage as the fantastically talented brass section backed him for a Vegas friendly version of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. Stop In The Name Of Love was also given the treatment whilst Tainted Love got the audience to its feet.

From then on the party was in full swing. Hit The Road Jack and a ska version of Fats Waller’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ kept us dancing, and despite the name of the orchestra, numbers like When You’re Smiling and When The Sun Goes Down were perfect to banish any blues.

It is hard to find the words to describe Jools’s performance on the piano. The giant screen behind him, showed that the speed and skill with which he plays is spell binding, and whilst he paid homage to some of the greatest piano players in the business; the quality of the musicianship on the stage would be hard to beat.

If Jools is something of a musical evangelist, then he has the perfect partner in the gospel voiced Ruby Turner who was next up to deliver an up tempo end to the evening which came to a stunning crescendo with a solo filled boogie version of Peace In The Valley. Her voice is so powerful that if your windows were rattling at around 10pm on Saturday, then Ruby was the reason.

With everybody coming back on stage, with the exception of Marc Almond, for the encore of Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think), the party was brought to a close and the revellers reluctantly exited the auditorium to join the queue to buy the latest album release by Jools Holland, together with his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Sirens Of Song on which they are joined by artists as diverse as Joss Stone, Ruby Turner, Imelda May, Amy Winehouse, Ertha Kitt and Kylie.

Whilst Jools may be an annual fixture at The Royal Concert Hall, he and his band always provide a joyous atmosphere and the music is never anything but sensational. Tonight was no exception.