Richard Lutz survives a full assault of Jools Holland.
It was more of a military operation than a night of music. A fusillade of piano, a blast of gospel, a bombardment of barrelhouse and a barrage of horns and voices.
Yes, General Jools and his army of musicians simply overwhelm you with a slick and noisy onslaught of rhythm and blues – and if a bit familiar at times from a lifetime of TV shows, it’s a night out that a sell-out crowd swallowed hook, line and piano.
Holland, with a voice like a metal thing whirring around your broken washing machine and cohort Ruby Turner (below) with a Handsworth voice that breaks the ice on a windscreen from 100 metres, simply didn’t stop. Two straight hours of song after song after song. At times, they all seemed intertwined, broken up, craftily, with a trio of numbers from Coventry ska kings The Selector or a solo sneak attack from singer Louise Marshall.
But you get bangs for your bucks. Jools, like it or not, is a ‘national treasure’. It may be a bit trite, of course, but he is so omnipresent on the old flatscreen (34 series of his music programme Later and 27 New Year’s Eve bashes), that he is a permanent part of the entertainment landscape.
From his early life in Squeeze to his manic Man in the Pinstripe Suit act on The Tube to his continual life as a band leader, Jools keeps the fabric of twentieth century music alive, not only harking back to ragtime and blues and boogie woogie but engendering new talent, from singers to a full range of big band musicians.
So, full marks for the boy. You can’t fault him. He’s keeping things alive that could easily die and disappear. At times, I had the feeling he is a one man employment agency for all the saxophone blowers, hornmen and blues shouters to ever come out of a pub, conservatoire or music joint.
So, Britain needs guys like Jools Holland – slightly cheesy, wackily verbose, even a bit hokey. But always enthusiastic. And a one-man advert for a world where you can be proud to wear your dad’s old-fashioned suit.
++Jools Holland is presently on tour