BURSTING with energy and talent, Jools and his pals certainly know how to put on a party.
Saturday morning broke with cloud and drizzle, most unappetising for a summer festival.
But come evening, the crowd at Upton were blessed with sunshine and blue skies.
What’s more, a real musical treat lay in store. Filing into the beautiful grounds of the country house, armed with picnics, blankets and tables and chairs of varying grandeur, the audience were buzzing with excitement.
This proved to be completely justified when Jools and his team appeared on stage a most unheard of 15 minutes earlier than expected.
No one was complaining, obviously, and streams of people made a beeline from their makeshift camps towards the bustling stage to dance.
In between a run of cracking openers including Midnight Special, the former Squeeze member introduced the band one by one, with his usual pizzazz. Part of Jools’ magic is how effortless he makes it all look, whizzing through the hits and between styles and tempos without a hitch.
You'd never think the band began life nearly 30 years ago.
The first of his 'guests', singer Beth Rowley, delivered a heartfelt Drown in my own Tears, while the second Louise Marshall got everyone moving with Accentuate the Positive.
A ‘trip to the ska world’ next - including Too much pressure and On My Radio - drew more throngs of all ages onto their feet.
But the real showstopper was the arrival of the phenomenal Ruby Turner, who had been named an MBE hours earlier.
Jools’ hailed her the ‘queen’ and ‘goddess’ of boogie-woogie, which she then lived up to by belting out Pray Have Mercy, Nobody but you, Peace in the valley, Enjoy Yourself and I’ll be seeing you.
Turner has a powerful voice and a great stage presence. Sadly, our time with the band was up too soon.
The light had faded and the air had cooled, but Jools and co had warmed the evening right up.
A brief encore rounded off the party and then there were picnics to pack up under the illuminated Upton House.
All in all, an excellent, fun festival taster. Let’s hope it returns next year.