Hatfield House 19th June 2015
Hatfield House has always been a fantastic venue for a summertime outdoor music event. Those lazy evenings with a picnic and prosecco wouldn't be complete without some great music too. Another great weekend of concerts at Hertfordshire's historical venue kicks off with Jools Holland and His Rhythm And Blues Orchestra. From his early days as the keyboard player with Squeeze, to his Hootenanny- which has now become a yearly institution- Jools Holland is a much loved icon of British Music.
Entrusted with the task of getting the audience in the mood for a knees-up was songwriter and producer Clive Gregson whose songs have been recorded by the likes of Nancy Griffith and Matt Cardle. His melodic, country influenced songs must have been informed by living America for 25 years. The Trouble With Love, Harlem, I Love This Town and Download Me all have a real sunny Texan feel, which is probably the reason they have been recorded by so many artists.
Jools and his orchestra take to the stage with a foot tapping version of When The Saints Go Marching in. With the amazing weather, Jools' boogie woogie piano and a great 20 piece band it wasn't long before the crowd was up and dancing. The first guest performers were Jools' backing singers Mabel Ray and Louise Marshall. Louise is well known to fans of the Rhythm and Blues orchestra and it was lovely to hear her sing live. I really enjoyed her version of the old classic Valentine Moon, and Accentuate The Positive.
There is no doubt that Jools and his orchestra are fine musicians but it did feel as if they were playing safe. The audience were certainly having fun but the overall feel from the band was a tad lacklustre until the special guests arrived later in the evening, then things really started to liven up.The first guest wasKT Tunstall. For me it was a real pleasure to see KT, I've been a fan since her early days and I was pleased that she performed Suddenly I See from her fantastic debut album Eye To The Telescope. Considering KT is best known for her buskers style and using peddles to create a fuller sound for her music it was really interesting to hear her perform to such a large orchestra. She ditches her guitar to perform the standard Night and Day which really shows a sophisticated side to KT and demonstrates her versatile vocal style and talent as a performer. She also does her terrific cover version of The Jackson Five Hit – I Want You Back – great stuff!
Ruby Turner was the headline act for the show and it was a real shame she wasn't able perform some more with Jools and the orchestra. She is a real class act and a sublime vocal talent who really was the highlight of the show. Her skill outshone everybody else on the stage and her performance of gospel song Peace In The Valley was undoubtedly a spiritual experience for all watching. Ruby is certainly one of British music's hidden gems. I'm sure I am not alone in thinking that it would be great to see Ruby do more solo shows. A truly wonderful way to end an evening of quality musicianship, a real hoote – without the nanny.