Sunday, 5 April 2009

IN CONCERT: Jools Holland and Friends

In a former church, just off one of the busiest squares in Amsterdam the Husband followed me as I tried to secure a good vantage point with a surface to lean against.

"Here. No. Here. No. Ok. Here. I promise, here is fine."

And oh, how it was.

We had bought tickets for Jools Holland before Christmas around in a mass ticket purchase for upcoming gigs at the Paradiso, including tickets for Luka Bloom and Ray LaMontagne. At 24 Euro, Jools was the most expensive and also the one we waited longest for.

Due to an unseasonably warm evening (oh, and also because someone *ahem* me, forgot the tickets and had to go home for them *ahem*), we eschewed the warm up acts to sit in the sunshine with beer and nachos.

I love going to the Paradiso. It is such a fantastic venue. The stage sits in front of three huge illuminated stained glass windows and there is seating on two upper balcony levels, if you get there early enough. Reminiscent of a pared down music hall, it is a small venue, which is great if you are in the audience because you can actually see the people on stage even if you are standing at the back. I had wondered if the stage was big enough to hold the 18 piece Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, for Luka Bloom it was just one man and his guitar. Even Ray LaMontagne filled the stage up with five people. No doubt, it was a tight fit but the entire Orchestra and a grand piano fit right up there.

I can honestly say that I have never been to a concert before where the artists were having such a great time. It was a party on stage from the moment Jools set foot on stage until they trooped off at the end of the second encore. They danced, sang, played, whooped, clapped and shook any tambourine they could get their hands on. It was infectious, the crowd couldn't stop moving along with them.

When we booked the tickets Marc Almond was listed as a guest vocalist but when I checked the listing on Friday morning I discovered, to my delight, that Ruby Turner had been added to the line up as well. The supporting vocalists, Rosie May and Louise Marshall were excellent but Ruby Turner came out to rapturous applause and just blew the roof right off.

I truly thought that Ruby would be the highlight of the night for me but I was utterly unprepared for the showmanship of Marc Almond. Although he seemed slightly uncertain as he began his first song, by the time he soared into the big band chorus of "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye", he was lighting up the stage. The audience couldn't keep from dancing, hands in the air, singing along with him. He was absolutely amazing, very theatrical and absolutely compelling to watch. There wasn't an off moment in the entire two hour performance.

I bounced out of the venue still dancing, I don't think I've stopped yet.

This video was recorded in 2005, and though its good I can assure you Friday's performance blows its cotton socks off.


  1. Sounds wonderful fun. Good ol' Marc Almond, he survived a horrible accident a few years ago didn't he? So amazing that he bounced back.
    I love Luka Bloom and Ray LM, what great gigs to go to.

  2. It really was. We are so lucky to live in a city which allows us to see concerts at such affordable prices.