Or rather Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra to give the correct name.
On Saturday 21st December Jools and the team took Portsmouth by storm. The review by Portsmouth News writer Rachel Jones does not convey the excitement, the energy and the sheer power of the show.
“A fanfare of trumpets heralded the arrival of Jools Holland”
But that’s where any ceremony ended because an evening with Jools and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra is a laid-back affair.
I agree that group may appear laid-back but that is because they are all extremely talented musicians. They are comfortable with their instruments and they are comfortable with their fellow orchestra members. Always in control but not so rigid that they can’t have fun with the music and each other.
The fanfare paved the way for Jools to turn on the Boogie-Woogie piano playing for which he is renowned. As always the opening number set the standard for the rest of the evening, got our feet tapping and our hands clapping. And then the brass section came in full tilt and blew us all away.
This was the third time I have been to see Jools and each time the effect of the opening number reminds me of that Maxell Tape advert, the one where the guy is pressed into the back of his armchair by the sound coming from his Hi Fi.
Once started the pressure is maintained. Sure the pace slows a little from time to time but the entertainment level and the quality of the music and the musicians remains at the very highest levels. This is demonstrated throughout the show as each individual musician takes centre stage to solo on their chosen instrument. Even the backing singers step into the spotlight to take the lead. This all serves to keep the show simmering along nicely.
However, the heat really turns up when the power house that is Ruby Turner takes to the stage. Ruby is the resident “guest star” and boy has she got a voice. She wrings every ounce of emotion out of every word and note. Ruby was definitely cooking with gas on Saturday night.
Jools likes to bring other guest stars to his shows. Saturday was no different. In the past we have been treated to performances by Lulu and Marc Almond, both superb vocalists. On this occasion it was former Spice Girl Melanie C. who performed a mix of songs, her own and covers. As on previous occasions taking a well known singer out of their usual context shows what talent they truly have. Mel C. was no exception and showed that she was up to performing familiar songs supported by Jools and the team. Strutting from side to side of the stage she had both the audience and the orchestra in the palm of her hands.
Sadly the show came to an end, but not until Jools and the orchestra returned for an encore and finished with the entire audience on their feet.
I left Portsmouth Guildhall with my feet and hands buzzing. The ultimate sign of a great show.