Jools in the crown for big band excitement

Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

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A 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.

Presenter/historian Lucy Worsley hosts, as Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

Presenter/historian Lucy Worsley hosts, as Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

The audience was told 14,000 applications were received for 800 tickets, for the concert which will be screened on BBC4 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.

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.

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’).

Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

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.

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.

Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

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 Almond, special guest as Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

Marc Almond, special guest as Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

Marc Almond, special guest as Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

Marc Almond, special guest as Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

Singer Rumer, special guest as Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special

Singer Rumer, special guest as Jools Holland plays the Empress Ballroom for BBC one-off special