THE evegreen entertainer was on good form, and his guest stars several notches higher.

Jools Holland is a regular and popular visitor to Yorkshire, and last Friday's sold-out crowd knew exactly what to expect. While Chris Holland, alike in almost all respects to his older brother, with identical twin Richard brushing the drums, provided an identikit low-key warm-up, a black-and-white version of what was to follow.

Jools, by contrast was vivid, with his longstanding 18-piece orchestra in glorious Technicolor. Sweeping through a two-hour set, the 24 songs were an astute overview of some of the best rhythm and blues. While Holland’s own songs are OK at best, when plugged into stronger material, and with everyone warmed up, the feelgood music began to take effect.

York Press:

Jools Holland and Ruby Turner ensuring there will be Peace In The Valley once more at York Barbican. Picture: Carl Letman 

The guest stars each brought a different feel to the songs, with Louise Marshall impressing early on with her cool and assured trio of songs. Holland’s piano playing was as impressive as ever, but the night really lifted off when Marc Almond bounced on stage. Anyone expecting limpid torch songs would have been very disappointed. Instead, Almond was an exuberant revelation.

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, one of the finest songs of the 1980s, set the tone: dark songs to dance to. Working the stage like a contender, Almond may have lost the erotic for this middle-of-the-road setting, but his Vegas cabaret performer’s instincts were razor sharp.

Ruby Turner had a welcome worthy of royalty, and she richly repaid this adoration with a vocal tour de force. At the end of an amazing Peace In The Valley she was spent, nothing left to give. The orchestra was also buoyant by now; proof that a big band in full swing is pretty much irresistible.