The hardest-working man in boogie-woogie: 15 years on, Jools Holland And His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are still warm, inclusive and cheering
Jools Holland And His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra
Royal Albert Hall, London Touring again from May 11, 2022
Neil Young And Crazy Horse
Barn Out now
On Friday week Jools Holland presents his 29th Hootenanny, the New Year’s Eve party for people who prefer to avoid New Year’s Eve parties.
Last month he finished the 58th series of Later… With Jools Holland, the only mainstream TV show left that nurtures new music.
Also last month, he released Pianola, probably the first album ever to feature Tom Jones, David Gilmour and Abide With Me. On Tuesday he completes a two-month UK tour with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. In May he starts another one, after touring Europe in between.
Jolls Holland’s (above) shows at the Albert Hall are an annual fixture, and, in the 15 years since I (Tim De Lisle) first saw him there, his show has barely changed
At 63, he’s the hardest-working man in boogie-woogie.
His shows at the Albert Hall are an annual fixture, as dependable as The Last Night Of The Proms, and less likely to start a culture war. In the 15 years since I first saw him there, his show has barely changed.
It’s still warm, inclusive and cheering.
His orchestra is more of a big band, often running to 19 people. Where other band leaders have one or two saxophonists, Jools has four.
He sings a little too much, in a reedy voice, but gets away with it because the fans know there’ll be a belter of a guest along in a minute.
Tonight they get Mick Hucknall, breezing through the blues of T-Bone Shuffle, and Chris Difford, from Jools’s old band Squeeze, still making people chuckle with Cool For Cats.
There’s some powerhouse soul from Ruby Turner and livewire pop from Lulu, who belts out Shout as if she was still 15, rather than 73.
The last big release of the year comes from Neil Young, now 76.
Barn is his 41st studio album and he springs one mild surprise, an elegant uptempo love song propelled by a honky-tonk piano. It’s called Shape Of You, which suggests Young has never heard of Ed Sheeran. O lucky man.
Barn, by Neil Young (above) And Crazy Horse, is half crunching rock, half soothing folk. The rock songs are solid, but the beauty is in the ballads
Otherwise it’s his usual recipe – half crunching rock, half soothing folk.
The rock songs are solid, with Nils Lofgren again joining the eternal Crazy Horse rhythm section of Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot, but the beauty is in the ballads, especially Song Of The Seasons.
It has a melody that could have appeared on Harvest in 1972, a lyric (mentioning masks) that could only be from the 2020s, and a serenity that could get you through Christmas.