Well what a night we had on Saturday 20 July…

Jools Holland in the park, balmy weather, no rain AND awesome music!

The visit of Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra to Walton Hall and Gardens was a first for Warrington’s favourite park and it was certainly one that’ll live long in the memory! With special guests Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson, members of ‘The Selecter’, the 2 Tone ska revival band formed in 1979, and of course the magnificent Ruby Turner, Louise Marshall and Mabel Holland this was music at its best!

The night started with the very talented Jack Lukeman whose commanding yet evocative vocals echoed through the park on this beautiful sun kissed evening. What a performer this guy is and what a voice, powerful, nostalgic, and emotional – the list of adjectives could go on. It’s fair to say that if the audience weren’t aware of Mr Lukeman before they arrived, they went home educated! I know I did!

What of ‘The Selecter’? Well fans of the Ska band will have known what to expect from Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson and I can tell you they weren’t disappointed. I’d go so far as to say that ‘The Selecter’ gained even more fans from this part of the world on Saturday with classic renditions of ‘Too Much Pressure’ and ‘Enjoy Yourself’ – it was a joy to see the crowd jumping up and down, heads banging and in some cases sticks in the air!!

What of Ruby Turner, Louise Marshal and Mabel Holland? Ruby Turner needs no introduction – having toured with Jools for many years hers is a distinctive voice which held the crowd in raptures. Together with Louise Marshal and Mabel Holland the final song of ‘Well Alright, OK’ can still be heard reverberating off the trees and buildings around Walton Gardens, a masterclass of blues executed to perfection with the powerful combination of voice, orchestra and of course Mr Holland’s busy piano keys.

What of Jools? Well, the man himself held the crowd in the palm of his hand with a confidence and charm that oozed from every pin stripe of his immaculate suit, not to mention his beautiful red brogues! Serenading the audience with song after song, effortlessly moving between piano and guitar and looking perfectly at home in the leafy surrounds of Walton,  Jools smiled and charmed his way through a full two hours of brilliant and diverse music.

The concert co-hosted by the superb Parr Hall was a first for Walton Hall and Gardens and whilst there were teething issues and areas to be improved, the fact that a concert of this magnitude was held at Walton Hall and Gardens was a marker for the future.

Thanks for the memories Mr Boogie Woogie…

‘Well Alright, Ok!’