Jools Holland Blackpool Winter Gardens

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I’ve been to a number of concerts that I have been the only photographer, it really is a great way to work. I shot this concert for the BBC in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, and the show will be broadcast live on BBC4.


A very select audience boogied with TV’s best band in a one-off special in Blackpool.

Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra took to the stage of the Empress Ballroom to film a look back over the history of the big band.

Jools Holland  Big band event at Blackpool's

© Mark Waugh

The audience was told 14,000 applications were received for only a limited 800 tickets, to the concert which will be screened on BBC4 television next month.

The very best of the beautiful ballroom was brought out, with a large stage built out into the room, set with draping red curtains and spotlights to make the glittering chandeliers gleam even more – taking music fans back to an era of dance and dreams.

Jools Holland  Big band event at Blackpool's

© Mark Waugh

With support from special guests Rumer and Marc Almond, as well as his own singers, the dazzling Ruby Turner – whose stage entrance took the night to another level, Louise Marshall and Mabel Ray, Jools revealed in the beautiful surroundings of the Winter Gardens’ venue in Lancashire.

Although the star didn’t take to the stage until 45 minutes after the scheduled start, there was no doubt that a fun night was in store, as he warned of potential meteorites (‘Don’t move if one strikes, we’ll still carry on filming’).

But instead of missiles from outer space blasting into the ballroom, it was the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra that blasted into the space and they simply couldn’t fail to impress.

Jools Holland  Big band event at Blackpool's

© Mark Waugh

Solos from various members of the 20-strong outfit were awe-inspiring, and none more so than that of Jools’ former Squeeze band mate and orchestra drummer Gilson Lavis.

Marking the 35th anniversary of their working together, Jools hailed his hard hitting and storming moment in the spotlight as ‘one of the best drum solos I’ve ever seen’, and with a working relationship spanning that far back, he’ll have heard a few.

While the set perhaps lacked some of the more recognisable big band hits, certainly from the swing, Rat Pack, and war time eras, the incredible performances on show more than made up for this and kept the audience in raptures throughout.

From a balcony seat, the audience’s feet could be seen tapping and heads nodding from the very first bars, through until they finally ‘got ready to boogie’ and bounced to their feet to see the night home.

marc olmand jools Holland blackpool

© Mark Waugh


See the review in the local Blackpool paper here and a Lancashire paper here


Jools Holland  Big band event at Blackpool's Winter Garden

© Mark Waugh


Winter Gardens:

The Winter Gardens is a large entertainment complex in the town centre of Blackpool, Lancashire, England. It has twelve different venues, including a theatre, ballroom and conference facilities. Opened in 1878, it is a Grade II* listed building, incorporating various elements built between 1875 and 1939. It is operated by Crown Leisure Ltd, on behalf of Blackpool Council, which purchased the property from Leisure Parcs Ltd as part of a £40 million deal in 2010.

Jools Holland  Big band event at Blackpool's Winter Garden

© Mark Waugh

The Winter Gardens has hosted the main annual conferences for all three major British political parties as well as a number of trade unions. The Winter Gardens owners claim that every British Prime Minister since World War II has addressed an audience at the venue.

It has also been the venue of the Blackpool Dance Festival since its inception in 1920, has hosted the World Matchplay darts tournament every July since 1994 and it is the venue for the annual Rebellion punk festival.

The Winter Gardens Company bought the site in 1875 for £28,000. The Winter Gardens was built on the six-acre Bank Hey Estate and officially opened on 11 July 1878. The original intention was “to place on the land a concert room, promenades, conservatories and other accessories calculated to convert the estate into a pleasant lounge, especially desirous during inclement days.”

The Vestibule, Floral Hall, Ambulatory and Pavilion Theatre were all built in the 1870s and the Opera House Theatre originally opened in 1889. The Empress Ballroom was built in 1896 together with the Indian Lounge (now the Arena).

In 1910 the Opera House Theatre was rebuilt. Ownership of the complex changed in 1928 when the Winter Gardens Company was taken over by the Tower Company.

In 1930 the Olympia was built and the following year saw the addition of the Galleon Bar, Spanish Hall and Baronial Hall. The Opera House Theatre was rebuilt in 1939.

EMI took over the complex in 1967, and ownership changed hands again in 1983 when it was bought by First Leisure. In 1998, Leisure Parcs acquired the Winter Gardens from First Leisure’s Resorts Division as part of an estimated £74m deal which also included Blackpool Tower, and the resort’s three piers. On 3 December 2009 it was revealed that Leisure Parcs had accepted an offer of £40m from Blackpool Council to buy the Winter Gardens as well as the Tower, and other sites in the resort. The deal, financed through a combination of government regeneration cash, European funding and a loan, was finalised in March 2010.

The long-gone Blackpool Ferris wheel, erected in 1896, was also located at the Winter Gardens.

Jools Holland:

Julian Miles “Jools” Holland, OBE, DL (born 24 January 1958) is an English pianist, bandleader, singer, composer and television presenter. He was a founder of the band Squeeze and his work has involved him with many artists including Sting, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, George Harrison, David Gilmour, Magazine and Bono.

Since 1992, he has hosted Later… with Jools Holland, a music-based show aired on BBC2, on which his annual show Hootenanny is based. Holland is a published author and appears on television shows besides his own and contributes to radio shows. In 2004, he collaborated with Tom Jones on an album of traditional R&B music. He also regularly hosts the weekly programme Jools Holland on BBC Radio 2, which is a mix of live and recorded music and general chat and features studio guests, along with members of his orchestra.

Holland was educated at Shooters Hill Grammar School, a former state grammar school on Red Lion Gate in Shooter’s Hill (near Woolwich), in the Royal Borough of Greenwich in southeast London, from which he was expelled for damaging a teacher’s Triumph Herald.

His 2007 biography, Barefaced Lies and Boogie Woogie Boasts, was BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week” in the week beginning 8 October 2007 and was read by Holland.















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