Review: Jools Holland at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall

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.

Ruby Turner

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 


4 thoughts on “Review: Jools Holland at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall

  1. Check out Birmingham Jazz at 1000 Trades some time. We were treated last night to the creative music of a talented quartet including Adam Sirkis and Silwia Bialis playing to an audience of 20 and at a fraction of the cost of Jools H.

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