Review: Jools Holland, Ipswich Regent, November 3

Jools Holland and the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at The Regent, Ipswich

Jools Holland and the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at The Regent, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Jools Holland is an Ipswich favourite. His sell-out annual appearance at The Regent is a reminder that the clocks have gone back and there’s an autumnal chill in the air.

Jools Holland and the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at The Regent, Ipswich

Jools Holland and the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at The Regent, Ipswich

But, if the weather was wet and chilly outside, the atmosphere inside the theatre was warm and party-like. Accompanied by his long-serving 20-piece Rythmn and Blues Orchestra, Jools started the evening with a spirited rendition of his instrumental Beat Route. He announced he was in town to exercise his boogie muscles and they certainly got a fabulous two hour workout. Watching Jools as an accompanist on his TV show Later, it is easy to overlook what a dazzling pianist he is. His upbeat instrumentals littered the show’s set-list and at one point he even boogie-fied a piece by Richard Wagner to commemorate the composer’s 200th anniversary.

Jools is a generous frontman and offers each member of his orchestra the opportunity to step forward and deliver some stunning solos. Jools clearly delights in their talent and he enthusiastically name-checks each band member after each number.

Jools generosity doesn’t stop with shining the spotlight on the orchestra, he was joined onstage by backing singer Louise Marshall, boogie queen Ruby Turner and special guest, former Spice Girl Melanie C.

Melanie proved that she doesn’t need her band mates to shine and demonstrated her vocal power by leading Jools and the combined might of the orchestra through a mini set of soul classics which included Nina Simone’s Ain’t Got No/I Got Life and her own solo hit Never Be The Same Again.

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Although Jools set list included well-known numbers like Tuxedo Junction, Valentine Moon and Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive much of the set was devoted to road-testing new material. He announced early on that he would be playing music from “the present age, the golden age and the steam age.”

The emphasis on new material didn’t worry the audience who, by mid-way through the evening, were up and dancing in the aisles. Appropriately, enough the evening ended with a stunning big and version of Sunny Side of the Street and trombonist and reggae-pioneer Rico Rodriguez reminding us to Enjoy Ourself.

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Autumn maybe here but Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra effortlessly create an infectious party atmosphere which never fails to put a much-needed bounce in our step.

Andrew Clarke

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