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Joe Stilgoe Band at Ronnie Scott’s | Review

Joe stilgoe
Joe stilgoe

As good as it gets. That’s my feeling after being privileged to watch Joe Stilgoe the best singer-pianist in the world at indubitably the best jazz club in the world: Ronnie Scott’s. As soon as he walked onto the bandstand at Ronnie’s at 8.15 last night one knew one was in the presence of a true entertainer. Joe Stilgoe oozes charisma, sex appeal and showbiz glamour. His love of performance was so overwhelming that he effortlessly energized and mesmerised the audience. He is infectious, he radiated love and warmth so much so that one wants to be in his company and take in whatever it is he’s got.

Joe’s talent is undeniable. Songwriter, singer, pianist, performer, stand-up (or I should say sit-down comedian) comedian, raconteur he has it all, including matinee idol looks! But what stood out for me was his emotional intelligence. He is one of those rare people who can make others feel relaxed because he is at home with himself. This is immediately obvious and is what drives the waves of good vibes exchanged between performer and audience. As an example take this moment from last night. A member of the audience shouted, “can I buy your wife?”Joe quick as a flash,“no, we’re not that can of Country, yet.” That response epitomised the man’s decency and humour. Or talking of touring the world Joe remarked… “we’ve been to Europe, remember that?” Again a line that for many did more to underline the poignancy of Brexit than all the political rhetoric of the past two years.

Joe’s moment has arrived. He has written songs for the new production of The Jungle Book, he has worked with Liane Carroll, Alexander Armstrong, and Claire Martin, written a song for Michael Parkinson and also worked with the hit comedy show The Horne Section. At the time of writing, he is currently writing the music and lyrics for the stage production of David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang. His live show is a must. Joe’s spontaneity and innovation are stunning.

Supported by a highly talented band who are clearly enjoying themselves, Joe delights and entrances with numbers old and new. It Had To Be You is a tour de force. A three-hander with Tom Farmer on bass and Ben ‘Bam Bam’ Reynolds playing on the side of Tom’s bass create magic which intensifies with a switch into a rendition of I Wanna Walk Like You with Joe brilliantly mimicking the sounds of the brass section with hand and face gestures.

The playfulness which is a hallmark of the evening is topped by a soft closure in which they keep on making movements but no sounds. The effect is enthralling. As if the evening couldn’t get any better Joe goes and tops it all by singing an exquisite reworking of The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset (the best three minutes of the 1960s) so that like Terry and Julie walking over Waterloo Bridge into the sunset, we the ever so lucky audience at Ronnie Scott’s were in paradise.

5 Star Rating

Review by John O’Brien

Joe is back at Ronnie Scotts with a new band and a whole host of great new songs and interpretations of classics, old and new. Featuring a new horn section with trumpet whizz kid James Copus & sax supremo Tom Richards (Jamie Cullum, Heritage Orchestra), Joe’s band is also augmented by one of the finest guitarists in the land, Billy Adamson. As ever, featuring Tom Farmer on bass and Ben ‘Bam Bam’ Reynolds on drums, this will be a chance to hear this generation’s finest singer-pianist entertain as only he can.

Compared to Harry Connick Jr, Dudley Moore, Sammy Davis Jr and Danny Kaye as a performer,  Joe’s songwriting stock is now on a rapid ascent with his songs for the new production of The Jungle Book delighting audiences across the UK, as well as his successes with jazz royalty Liane Carroll and Claire Martin, and the title song written for the current UK touring show ‘Parkinson – Our Kind Of Music’, which features Joe as the featured performer and has been recorded for a Radio 2 special at The Palladium. The song had huge success on Radio 2 last year and was featured on the chart-topping album of the same name.

Joe Stilgoe (vocals)
James Copus (trumpet)
Tom Richards (sax)
Billy Adamson (guitar)
Tom Farmer (bass)
Ben ‘Bam Bam’ Reynolds (drums)


  • John OBrien

    JOHN O’BRIEN born in London in 1960 is a born and bred Londoner. His mother was an illiterate Irish traveller. His early years were spent in Ladbroke Grove. He was born at number 40 Lancaster Road. In 1967 the family was rehoused in Hackney. He attended Brooke House School for Boys in Clapton, - as did Lord Sugar. He became head boy and was the first person in his family to make it to university, gaining a place at Goldsmiths College in 1978. He took a degree in Sociology and a PGCE . From 1982 until 1993 he taught at schools in Hackney and Richmond. In 1984-85 he attended Bristol University where he gained a Diploma in Social Administration. From 1985 until 1989 he studied part-time in the evenings for a degree in English Literature at Birkbeck College. He stayed on at Birkbeck from 1990-1992 to study for an MA in Modern English Literature. He left teaching in 1993 and has worked as a tutor, researcher, writer and tour guide. He leads bespoke guided tours on London’s history, art , architecture and culture. He has attended numerous courses at Oxford University - Exeter College, Rewley House & Kellogg College. In London, he attends courses at Gresham College, The National Gallery, The British Museum, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, The British Academy and The Royal Society. Read the latest London theatre reviews by all reviewers.

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