Review: Jools Holland, Shrewsbury

There was more mustard than Coleman's. Hummus, crudités and antipasti was the order of the evening as thousands of Salopians enjoyed picnics in the park while boogy woogying to Jools Holland and co.

Review: Jools Holland, Shrewsbury

Jools Holland in The Quarry, Shrewsbury

The annual outdoor concert at Shrewsbury's idyllic Quarry Park was vintage stuff - both the music and the Chablis. 
Crowds packed into the verdant natural amphitheatre to enjoy the nation's favourite big band leader as well as guests Mel C, Marc Almond and the redoubtable Ruby Turner. 
It rained, of course. Well it had to, didn't it. The weather gods find a crowd of summer sun-seekers irresistible and a steady drizzle fell. 
Mel C railed against the clouds, though Jools took it in his stride and brought sunshine vibes to SY1. 
The gig took a similar form to Jools' ever-green TV show, Later... pianist-and-singer Jools tinkling the ivories with a set of soul, r'n'b and boogie woogie before introducing a series of guest vocalists.


Marc Almond was the first performer of note, offering theatrical versions of Soft Cell classics and more to the receptive Shrewsbury crowd. 
Mel C upped the ante with her easy-listening pop and rock. She may have first found fame for sporting a six-pack and pigtails in the Spice Girls but she's subsequently emerged as a vocalist of considerable ability.
She was in fine fettle on Saturday and enjoyed her set as much as the partisan crowd, bringing enthusiasm and verve to the stage. 
The leading light, however, was Brummie soul-and-gospel singer Ruby Turner, a remarkable talent whose career has been a triumph of substance over style. While Turner hasn't enjoyed the breaks that might have made her a household name, she's put in the hard yards and honed her honeyed voice. She was a class apart on Saturday and fitted in with Jools' swinging big band like a hand in glove. 
Champagne corks, fireworks, exquisite musicianship and great music made for a triumphant evening along the riverside. 
The rain made no difference to the mood of the musicians or crowd - those lucky enough to be there basked in a golden evening of delightful entertainment. 
By  Andy Richardson
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