The audience at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena were literally bristling with excitement on Saturday evening as fans took their seats to witness the penultimate date in Jools Holland and His Rhythm N Blues Orchestra’s current tour.
Rhythm and Blues Orchestra guitarist Mark Flanagan provided opening duties playing a brief set comprising of Americana and acoustic stylised music. Flanagan drew the crowds to their seats very quickly having to send them back for their refreshments before Holland’s orchestra took to the stage.
“Thank you! Goodnight!” joked Holland as he opened his arms to greet the audience when arriving on stage. Holland’s Goodnight would ultimately evolve into a very good night for all in attendance.
Ever the showman, its clear Holland has a love for music and musicians and wasted no time in introducing the percussion, brass and string sections of his orchestra giving each member a chance to display their individual talent on several occasions. Highlights included a rocked up version of Flight of the Bumble Bee (reminiscent in tempo to B Bumble and The Stingers Bumble Boogie) and an R&B slant on the traditional standard, When the Saints Go Marching In.
Holland also celebrated long term collaborator Gilson Lavis, of who, he observed, had met 40 years to the day. Holland stated that Lavis had given the best drum solo he or the audience were ever likely to see. A big statement, yes, but not one that anyone was denying.
There were fabulous vocal contributions from Louise Marshall and Mabel Ray as they lead individually on a blues soaked rendition of My Favourite Game and a Ska rendition of Secret Love.
Singer/songwriter KT Tunstall changed the pace into fast gear with an up-tempo performance of Suddenly I See, while there was also a spectacular nod to Sinatra of a rendition of Night and Day.
Holland’s final guest, the legendary Ruby Turner provided the icing on the musical cake with several songs from the new Jools & Ruby album. The audience by now were also in full swing, out of their seats and dancing to renditions of Ray Charles’ Jumpin’ in the Morning and a rousing version of Peace in The Valley.
An encore including Enjoy Yourself and a duet of I’ll Be Seeing You featuring Holland and Turner brought a very diverse and memorable night of music to a close and yes, it was clear, everyone had enjoyed themselves!