Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall REVIEW: 'A fantastic orchestra and superb guest vocalists'

Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra were at Portsmouth Guildhall on November 22, 2019.  Picture by Lorna Edwards
Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra were at Portsmouth Guildhall on November 22, 2019. Picture by Lorna Edwards
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Saturday evening saw Portsmouth locals squeeze into the Guildhall for an evening of Rhythm & Blues with Jools Holland.

The Later host was accompanied in the usual manner by a selection of guest vocalists. This evening’s guests were Irish alternative rock musician Jack Lukeman, Glasweigan Fairground Attraction singer Eddi Reader and the soul powerhouse that is Ruby Turner. 

Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra were at Portsmouth Guildhall on November 22, 2019.  Picture by Lorna Edwards

Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra were at Portsmouth Guildhall on November 22, 2019. Picture by Lorna Edwards

Holland received a warm and rowdy welcome to the stage from the clearly excited, mostly middle-aged audience.

Adorned in his usual black attire Jools wandered over to his black Yamaha piano and immediately began tickling the ivories with the upbeat Jumping At The Woodside.

READ MORE: Jools is added to the Guildhall’s Wall of Fame

They rolled straight into the next number before stopping to say ‘hello’ to the audience, and introduce the next song, Morris Dance which he tells us is about his dog, aptly named Morris.

The first vocal comes from Jools’ orchestra resident Louise Marshall whose three songs go down well. After a tribute to the late trombonist Rico Rodriguez, Jools was left on stage with just his drummer Gilson Lavis whose impressive drum solo earns him a standing ovation. 

There’s a fond introduction for Eddi Reader – her five-song set climaxes with her old band's number one hit Perfect, which has everyone on their feet and singing along.

The audience stayed on its feet for pretty much the rest of the evening, particularly once the bubbly force of nature Ruby Turner, a long-term feature of the orchestra’s shows, joins them. She effortlessly captures the audience in the palm of her hand. 

Following a quick encore break, the orchestra and guests return to belt out The Specials’ favorite Enjoy Yourself, while the audience sang along, followed by closing song Well Alright.

Jools was engaging and amusing throughout, gaining many a laugh for his dry humour. 

And with his fantastic orchestra and superb guest vocalists, he gave an evening which was pretty cool for cats.