Jools Holland performs in Canary Wharf

You could say the rise of Blues legend Jools Holland from his early days gigging in the dingy watering holes of the Isle of Dogs mirrors that of the island itself.

Both have reached international fame and both play host to leaders in their fields.

One, admittedly, has a fair bit more soul.

And that soul, along with attitude, grit and humour, was present in all its tooting, key-bashing glory at new restaurant and music venue the Boisdale in Canary Wharf where Holland and his band performed last week (June 21).

As recently-announced patron of the plush new venue, the music maestro had a bar to set.

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There wasn’t really any question that Holland and his dozen-strong Rhythm & Blues orchestra would deliver but a couple of very special guests provided the cherry on the cake.

Sixties legend Sandie Shaw and soul powerhouse Ruby Turner joined the pianist for a few songs each and would have knocked chart-toppers half their age out the water with their energy.

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Clad in the most thigh-skimming of sparkly frocks I’ve seen in a long while, Shaw proved her voice has remained as splendid as her pins as she belted out classics including Puppet on a String and There’s Always Something There to Remind Me.

Later on, Ruby Turner got more than half the bar up on their feet as she gestured sweet nothings as authentically as don’t-mess-with-me looks in her lively set.

Holland has a knack of illuminating chart goddesses in the most flattering of spotlights with his own musical prowess.

But while all eyes were on the divas, the atmosphere just wouldn’t have been anywhere near as electric without Holland’s command over a band.

Other highlights came in the form of reggae veteran Rico Rodriguez, who also treated the crowd to some trumpeting.

To watch a Rhythm & Blues band in all their honking, thumping, melodic glory in the intimacy of a music venue like the Boisdale is the way to do it, really.

With tickets reaching �160, punters had certainly paid for the privilege.

By the looks on their faces as they twirled their nearest neighbour around their arm in front of one of the most influential jazz musicians around, it was worth it.

For future gigs see

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