Reviewed by Jan Mellor
A majestic park, balmy July weather and the promise of exceptional musical were incredible ingredients to make an amazing summer evening of entertainment. The stunning Walton Hall and Gardens in Warrington, in partnership with the Parr Hall and Pyramid ‘Culture Warrington’ had organised an evening that had enticed hundreds of locals and others from afar to see Jools Holland, the ex-Squeeze pianist, and his ‘boogie-woogie’ orchestra famed for bluesy, ska and ‘get up on your feet’ rhymes, As I arrived, the park was already filled with exited people sat around the huge stage sitting in anticipation in their foldaway seats with raincoats and sun cream at hand in readiness for the unpredictable English summer evening. There were two bars selling draught and bottled beers and a food stall, however the lengthy and slow-moving queue showed wasn’t adequate and for future shows needs to be probably doubled as people were bitterly complaining. All that aside it was an amazing backdrop and the grumbles were soon forgotten as the support, a talented Irishman called Jake Lukeman sang his melodies of Magic day, King of Soho (with great audience participation) and his rendition of the infamous ‘Old Man River’.
Jools entered the stage 20 minutes later to rapturous applause and the place ‘came alive’. The area in front of the stage immediately filled with people of all ages dancing to songs ‘Other than that I’m fine’, Ska music (the saxophones and trombones being imitated brilliant by members of the audience) and other great Blues numbers.
Jools moved from piano to guitar effortlessly leaving his brother to play his beloved keys. The backing singers Mabel Ray and Louise Marshall, both with excellent voices, gave their own solo performances that again had the audience shouting for more. Jools had us all in the palm of his hand. His huge enigmatic smile made us all feel so good about being there on this fabulous evening. He then went on to demonstrate his versatility by planning an amazing piece of music from Bach – gosh this man could play – he makes it look so easy and throughout never stops smiling – what a personality!
Then, The Selector came on – Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson and the audience went wild for this infamous ska duo who unbelievably informed us that Ska music was 40 years old – how time flies! They delighted the audience with their renditions of ‘Sca-ville, ‘Too much pressure’, an amazing ode to the recently departed Doris Day with ‘Secret Love’ and their chart topping ‘On my Radio’ – brilliant! The orchestra melted in with them effortlessly and brought the whole Ska sound to life once more. From there, Jools brought us back to his wonderful piano sound as he and his astounding backing orchestra introduced the phenomenal Ruby Turner. Ruby Turner’s voice is absolutely amazing, and she demonstrated this with her great versions of ‘Morning, noon and night’, ‘To love a child’ and ‘Wanna cross over’ the audience were going wild. The band with Ruby’s staggering voice filled the summer dusk leaving us all in awe. We could however, feel that the evening was quickly coming to a close and so all there, young and old, were up on their feet grabbing the last minutes of this amazing performance. For the encore, all guests appeared – led by the marvellous The Selector, to sing us out with ‘It’s later than you think’ (a personal favourite of mine) that has become an anthem for Jools and his band. It is later than you think so go and see this amazing performer and his equally amazing band whilst you still can.
If you like Jools on the annual Hogmanay shows, or just like music to dance to you’ll love Jools and his band. He obviously loves what he does and has done since his days of Squeeze all them decades ago and his love for what he does is infectious. To see him in an outside venue is even more enjoyable especially if like us you are lucky with the weather. It had been well organised by the people from the Pyramid and Parr Hall and wherever you see this band I imagine it will be the same. Go and see what it’s all about for yourselves – you won’t be disappointed. A great evening of talent’.
Great talent, Great entertainment, Great show!
Jools Holland is currently on tour around the UK, for more information and tour dates visit www.joolsholland.com.
Walton Hall and Gardens, Walton Lea Road, Higher Walton,Warrington, Cheshire, WA4 6SN