Jools in the Crown

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Jools Holland is back at Perth Concert Hall tonight, and this time he’s brought Radio 2 crew as the concert is to broadcast on ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ as part of the BBC Biggest Weekend.  I’ve been warned to be on my best behaviour and to keep my usual screams of ‘wan mair tune’ to a dull roar.  Incredibly this is actually Jool’s ninth appearance at the Perth Festival, his first coming way back in 1998 when he played at Perth City Hall.  Anyone who has seen The Rhythm and Blues Orchestra a few times will know that they like to keep things fresh with a constantly evolving set-list and an amazing array of guest stars.  Tonight is no exception as Marc Almond of Soft Cell fame will be joining them onstage.

First up though is singer-songwriter Galia Arad who, despite a cough from hell plays one of the best support sets I’ve ever seen.  As well as being disarmingly funny, she has a great voice, personality for days and the songs to back it all up.  Particularly noteworthy is ‘The Elvis Costello Song’ about a time she got catfished by her friend Bob who sent her a prank email pertaining to be from Declan McManus himself.  It’s got a great middle eighth that deftly weaves the titles of classic Costello tracks into the fabric of the tune. it’s on her 2015 ‘This is Lost’ album and it’s well worth checking out.

Next up is the main event, Mr Holland and his amazing Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.  The first thing that catches your attention when they hit the stage is that truly unique brass sound.   I’ve seen a lot of live music in my time and have never heard as sweet a sound as Jools ten man strong brass section.  Jools is on blistering form and he charms the Perth audience with his winning smile and between-song banter.  My girlfriend Jo had mentioned before that she’s got a thing about older drummers so I’m surprised that the silver-haired human metronome that is Gilson Lavis didn’t catch her eye until the third song, a lovely rendition of Nina Simone's ‘Love O’ Love.  This is followed by a couple of instrumentals, including a cover of my favourite pianist Dr. John, and an extended drum solo by Gilson that is even better than the one last year.  

Backing singer Louise Marshall returns for another bravura performance of ‘Waterloo Bridge’ and a reggae-infused version of ‘Plaisir D’amour’.  This gives way to a set by one of Britain’s greatest torch singers Marc Almond, that takes in Soft Cell classics ‘Tainted Love’ and ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’.  The undisputed star of the evening though is Ruby Turner.  You could live a hundred years and never hear a singer quite like Ruby.  She brings the soul on ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ and a more than a little bit of gospel on ‘Peace in the Valley’.  Before we know it it’s encore time and Jool’s and co are telling us ‘Enjoy Yourself’.  We certainly have, and I hope Jool's will be back for his tenth Perth appearance next year.

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