I’m not going to claim to be some kind of jazz aficionado but I did get a little but giddy when I saw the line up for this year’s Gateshead International Jazz Festival. Mainly because the name Ruby Turner was at the top of the list and after seeing her perform with Jools Holland at the City Hall in December I jumped at the chance to see her again. When I logged on to buy tickets and realised the gig was a double header with The Brand New Heavies I couldn’t type my card details in quick enough!
The Sunday night concert was the epic finale of the three day festival which brought other big names to the Sage Gateshead including Soweto Kinch, Phronesis and Christine Tobin plus, for the first time ever, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Thrifty jazz lovers were able to save money on tickets for two or more events with a ‘Jazz Pass’ but even without a discount, I thought £25 for the Ruby Turner and Brand New Heavies gig was superb value.
I managed to get seats on the second row but even if I’d have been sat at the back of Hall Two in the Sage I could not fail to be moved by Ruby Turner’s emotional performance. With the amazing tone of her big soul voice and her infectious bubbly character, Ruby was able to make me laugh, dance, sing and cry all in the space of 40 minutes.
Then after a short interval the Brand New Heavies blew me away with a load of 90’s anthems that I’d almost forgotten all about! The material from the new album was also just as good and I can’t wait to buy a copy when it comes out in May. My feet were aching from all the dancing by the end of their set but I couldn’t resist hoping on the Quaylink bus and heading over the river for the after party at Hoochie Coochie. It’s one of my favourite bars in the city because the music is always soulful and you’re guaranteed a party atmosphere every time. Sunday night was no exception, especially when Jan Kincaid, drummer and founding member of the BNH turned up to perform a DJ set with the rest of the band hitting the dance floor. Needless to say my head was a little bit sore the next morning!
Next year will the 10th Gateshead International Jazz Festival and it’s got a huge reputation to live up to but something tells me it’s going to be even bigger and better!
Did you see any of the events in this year’s festival? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought!
By Rachel Kershaw