Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Review: Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, York Barbican
JOOLS Holland and his orchestra do not ever put on a bad show, although in retrospect, last year’s return to the York Barbican took a while to get going. No such worries this time round. From first note to last, Jools and co were on blasting form.
People are sometimes irritated by Jools because of his high media profile and the way he bumbles about on Later. Yet forget all that and instead give praise to Jools as ringmaster of this astonishing musical circus, a genre-hopping affair that gives a hearty resuscitation to the big band.
You really cannot beat the sound created by all those musicians and singers: the swaying wall of brass, the rhythmic thrashing of old Squeeze man Gilson Lavis, the singers, the guitar playing – the whole lot adds up to a fun night out that has over the years become a cultural high point.
Musical highlight lapped musical highlight, but it would be remiss to go further without praising Mr Holland’s piano work, especially in an unnamed solo workout (with drum-rim tapping from Lavis) which combined boogie-woogie, jazz and what sounded like Bach to dizzying effect.
Jools is all slightly ridiculous bonhomie, but here his bumbling seems magnificent. He is having a great time and wants everyone else to have one too.
Familiar songs rolled by, a Big Bill Broonzy cover, Rosie Mae’s softly swinging version of The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea and Louise Marshall’s soulful turn on Valentine Moon (which Sam Brown used to do so beautifully).
This year’s guest slot was given over to Roland Gift. The onetime Fine Young Cannibal vocalist opened with Suspicious Minds and his set included a great version of Good Thing. How thrilling to hear his voice still has that falsetto soar.
Roland was certainly a highlight, but Jools always saves the real roof-lifting until last as, with great fanfare, he introduces gospel royalty in the lung-busting shape of Ruby Turner. This year her version of Get Away Jordan was so powerful it left her almost looking an emotional wreck.
The encores rolled on with When You’re Smiling (and we were) and Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think). It always is later than you think by the time Jools finally leaves the stage, but you go home happy.