Jazz Festival review: Jools Holland, Festival Theatre

WELL, judging by the experience of Saturday night at the Festival Theatre, it’s easy to see why the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival has made a performance by Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra a near-annual event in recent years.

Jools Holland. Picture: Getty Images


Jools Holland and his rhythm and blues orchestra/with Marc Almond

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Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Star rating: *

Not because it is the greatest show on earth but because it is one which puts backsides on very, very expensive seats.

Indeed, musically and in terms of taste and style, Saturday night’s concert was about as far from great as it’s possible for this music-lover to imagine – and that’s from a starting point of being someone who liked Jools Holland from TV.

The entire band was over-amplified; Holland’s piano sounded distorted because the volume was so high.

When it came to solos, the saxophones seemed to be set to screechy and the trumpets to stratospheric. Subtlety was sacrificed for theatricality as the audience lapped up everything that was thrown at them.

Holland did a bit of his stage-prowling while enthusing about how wonderful his musicians are – much like the tailor who sold the emperor his new clothes. A string of singers – including Holland’s daughter – brought some variety to the relentless and raucous boogie-woogie repertoire. The long-serving gospel-influenced Ruby Turner wiped the floor with those who had come before, including Marc Almond, whose high-octane, pastiche-like, performance of If You Love Me would have Piaf pirouetting in her grave.

Seen on 25.07.2015