Jools Holland at the Royal Albert Hall
“Please welcome Jools Holland to the stage,” booms over the speakers as Holland practically bounces on stage to deafening applause. Hollers, cheers, and full-out ecstatic screams bound through the grand Royal Albert Hall, an imposingly majestic extravaganza of a venue.
Instantly, a sort of peppy energy fills the Herculean concert hall to the brim as Holland hypes up the crowd, a mixture of a musician and a bandleader with a motivational speaker’s attitude. The mainly older audience greet the pianist and his big band with well-deserved acclamation that would only be topped at the end of the spectacular.
The climate of the room shifts between each song, with the well-rounded, flexible, fun-loving Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, transitioning in and out of groovy boogies, straight-shot jazz, ballads and even gospel. Louise Marshall, a backup singer, enchants the crowd through pouring all her energy into each individual note of her two solo pieces, showing off her power as the pitch increases, allowing the beauty of her voice to speak for itself.
After building up the crowd’s verve, Holland introduces José Feliciano to great fervour. Feliciano surfs through California Dreamin’, calmly and confidently leading the track with his voice and an acoustic guitar. The Puerto Rican musician carries the band through the next few numbers, including the novel Happy New Year, each performer shining with contagious smiles.
“Living boogie woogie queen” Ruby Turner lights the crowd up with her fierce, passionate gospel ballads, jazz standards and, of course, a boogie or two. The whole house rises and dances as she bellows Let the Good Times Roll. Turner has the undeniable power to simultaneously unite the band and steal the spotlight, creating yet another new sound for the viewers.
Holland holds equal prowess in every genre, and though his voice is smoother than silk yet rough like sandpaper when he wants it to be, he truly excels in his piano ability. Simply put, the man is a legend. It remains a mystery as to how he plays with such complex music with only two hands. Each finger is a different instrument, each note igniting a musical fire. Holland soars through each piece, somehow even incorporating Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata into jazz improvisation.
With each swelling movement, the concert brings jazz alive. For anyone in attendance on the As You See Me Now tour on 25th November 2017, it was truly an unforgettable masterpiece of an evening.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit the Jools Halland website here.
Watch the video for As You See Me Now here: