JOOLS Holland strode through the 18 players of his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra to take the spotlight.
“Who’s seen me here before?” he called to about 3,000 fans packed into the Brighton Centre. A roar of welcome greets the question; he is among friends and no wonder.
Since his debut in 1974 as keyboard player for Squeeze, he has become internationally celebrated as a jazz pianist, bandleader, composer, singer and television presenter with an additional reputation as a generous sponsor of new talent.
Guest singers here included Ruby Turner, Louise Marshall and Beth Rowley with special appearances from Pauline Black, Arthur Hendrickson and Gilson Lavis but there is no doubt who was the main attraction.
Holland came to life on the piano, hands flying with syncopated rhythms in opposite directions with knees bouncing. He played standing up and sitting down, singing and conducting in a virtuoso display.
Hit numbers, new songs and even a Bach prelude were all played with an exciting degree of improvisatory inspiration. Their compelling rhythms invited us to dance, tap, shout and sway, which created a wonderful atmosphere.
It’s not often the Brighton Centre assumes the intimacy of a New Orleans bar but clever lighting, back projection and the authenticity of live performance just about managed it.