mon 11/12/2017

Jools Holland and José Feliciano, Royal Albert Hall review - giving the audience what they expect | reviews, news & interviews

Jools Holland and José Feliciano, Royal Albert Hall review - giving the audience what they expect

Jools Holland and José Feliciano, Royal Albert Hall review - giving the audience what they expect

The live show stays close to the spirit of a 25-year TV phenomenon

Old comrades: Jools Holland and José FelicianoMary McCartney

It really is quite something to be admired, the sheer longevity and staying power of the Jools Holland franchise. The TV show Later...With Jools Holland, with the same core team running it, has just celebrated its 25th anniversary and put its 51st season to bed. That takes us all the way back to October 1992, just after the summer of John Bryan and Antonia de Sancha, of toes and Chelsea strips. Meanwhile, another part of the franchise, Jools' Annual Hootenanny, with a similar format has been running since New Year’s Eve 1993. Holland and his team have been building all this since his mid-thirties. He will turn 60 in January.

Two Royal Albert Hall shows, with the huge venue completely packed, of which I saw the first, marked roughly the half-way point of a 35-date British Isles tour, which will end just before Christmas. It is an album launch tour for As You See Me Now, Jools Holland’s album with his Rhythm and Blues Band and José Feliciano.

By the end the entire audience was completely energised

The TV shows have shaped a set of audience expectations over time, and the live show duly gets on with the task of fulfilling them as closely as possible. As Gary Burton once wrote, remembering what he had learnt as part of George Shearing’s band, “no matter what the artist thinks, most people really just want to hear what they already know.”

So the trademarks are all there: Jools Holland and a succession of guests, the double-breasted pinstripe suit, the familiar patter. There are opportunities to feature members of the band and to give solo spots to fine singers Beth Rowley and Louise Marshall.

Musically there is much to admire. The focus, the talk is all about boogie and boogieland, but I like the way the door is open to other styles; the full band in ska mode is an envigorating delight. I also found my ears constantly listening out for the wonderfully subtle interventions from Chris Holland on Hammond.

Mo ZowayedJosé Feliciano is 72, his voice is strong, but his progress on to and off the stage did seem difficult and ungainly. On the album he is at his best in Stevie Wonder’s "Treat Myself" from the 1995 album Conversation Piece, but that didn’t make it into the live show. His mini-set started and ended with his familiar covers, “California Dreamin’” and “Light My Fire”. There is also a new song "New Year", performed against a visual backdrop of Big Ben and fireworks. Thus are franchises subliminally and subtly reinforced.

Feliciano also sang “Let’s Find Each Other Tonight”. Like everything else, the Albert Hall crowd was gleefully lapping it up, while I was in my own world, quietly troubled by the versification of the couplet “If you need some Company/Come and take a chance on me”, in which the word company is set as an anapest rather than a dactyl. It is the tiniest thing, but the more I hear it, sorry, the more it grates.

Earlier, the support set had come from Mo Zowayed (pictured above), a young Bahraini folk-rock singer-songwriter who has lived for four years in British Columbia. He ploughs a similar furrow to Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs but his songs don’t – yet – stay in the mind in quite the same way.

The show built to a final blazing, burning soul set featuring Ruby Turner and the band in full cry on songs like "Let the Good Times Roll" and an original "Roll out of this Hole". By that time the entire audience was completely energised and on its feet. 

@SebScotney

Overleaf: watch Jools Holland and José Feliciano in "Let’s Find Each Other Tonight"

The trademarks are all there: Jools Holland and a succession of guests, the double-breasted pinstripe suit, the familiar patter.

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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