I’ve grown up watching Jools on his popular BBC2 programme Later… With Jools Holland. It started when I was 14 just when i was getting into music with a vengeance. I watched it religiously and I discovered so many new favourite acts through their performances on the show. People like PJ Harvey, Leonard Cohen, Aimee Mann and Buddy Guy and bands like Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips that I still love today I got into because of Later.
Jools is still introducing us to great new music in the form of his support act, singer-songwriting duo Lewis and Leigh. Al Lewis is a chap from Wales and Alva Leigh a gal from Mississippi. They serve up some finely crafted Americana tinged songs with a side order of some of the finest harmonies you have ever heard. Stand-outs were Devil’s in the Detail and Keep Your Ghost from their debut album Ghost.
After that very pleasing musical amuse bouche it was time for the main course, Mr music himself, Jools Holland. During the first song Midnight Special I started to get a sense of the sheer scale of the big band. Of course I’ve seen them and heard them on the TV, but here I could really feel them as well. Soon we get a bit of audience participation as Jools shouts out the name of some Jazz and Blues greats and plays the one we cheer the loudest. Louis Armstrong wins and the trumpet player Jon Scott takes a brief but lovely solo, Jools tickles the ivories and, in fine voice it must be said, sings the lead.
It would be remiss of me not to point out that Jools orchestra features two of the most talented and beautiful backing singers you have ever seen or heard, both of who sing lead on a couple of songs. First up is Beth Rowley with a jazzy rendition of the Jools penned song Just To Be Home. This is followed by a roof-raising performance of a Bessie Smith song Gimme a Pigfoot featuring a harmonica solo from Rowley. After stripping things back with a massive drum solo from the great Gilson Lavis, who was hitting those skins like a cross between The Man With The Golden Arm and Whiplashes dad! It's time for Louise Marshall to take the spotlight with a piano and drums arrangement of Waterloo Bridge. A reggae infused version of Plaisir D’amour, what a stonking bass-line, with a hint of I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You thrown in makes a fitting showcase for Louise’s impressive vocal talents.
Soon Jool's old Squeeze bandmate Chris Difford takes the stage and we are treated to great arrangements of Squeeze classics Pulling Muscles From The Shell and Cool For Cats plus new song Fat as Fiddle. Difford gives way to the awesome and beautiful Ruby Turner who has one of greatest voices I’ve ever heard. The closest thing I can think of to her performance is Margie Hendricks in the way she really swings for the fences and leaves it all out there. Also, Ruby’s part of the show has some really great song selections. Songs like Let The Good Times Roll (which allowed me and my pal Big John to try out our backing vocals, we’ve still got it!), Peace In The Valley and my favourite Worried Man. After an encore that included the Jools singalong staple Enjoy Yourself the happy, the musically satiated Perth audience file out of auditorium tired from clapping and singing along.
Jools pun for headline provided courtesy of Craig Martin. Have you got a Jools Pun? Leave it in the comments section below!
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