It was a night to remember, in no small part from waking up sore after dancing the night away. Not a person in sight could contain their energy and joy as Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues orchestra lit up the Royal Albert Hall. Not only does Jools Holland embody the big-band spirit, he has a singular knack for sharing it with the audience. But this is hardly a one-man show: Holland’s big band is a family affair, with an opening by his brother Christopher Holland, and appearances from crowd-favourites like Louise Marshall, Eddie Reader, and Ruby Turner.
The concert was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about the hit names in British music, and to see the diverse range of artists on the stage. Each performer had a special knack for connecting with the audience, and made even the most novice among us feel that we had known them for decades. One of my favorite moments was Eddi Reader’s performance of La Vie en Rose. Perhaps because it was the one song whose lyrics I knew, or because the energy was contagious, it was hard not to croon along.
Even with all of the excitement in front of our box (shared generously by Harvey Goldsmith), much of the energy was in fact coming from the back. The whole Ertegun cohort was breaking it down in our little box, and soon enough you could see folks up and down the theatre on their feet. It was a scene that called to mind the old adage, “work hard, party hard.”
N.B. An unexpected perk of this trip was learning to navigate the London transportation system. As it turns out, your ticket can get you on trains, buses, and the metro! Just getting to Royal Albert Hall was itself an adventure through the many neighborhoods of London.
Ertegun Scholars with Ertegun Board Director, Harvey Goldsmith, at the Royal Albert Hall Box