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Jools Holland fans feeling the blues as Belfast concert pulled

Piano man pulls out day after live music gets go ahead

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REGULAR: Jools Holland has been playing Belfast for years

REGULAR: Jools Holland has been playing Belfast for years

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REGULAR: Jools Holland has been playing Belfast for years

Jools Holland has told his Northern Ireland fans “later” after suddenly cancelling a concert in Belfast.

The piano man and his Rythym and Blues Orchestra had been due to play the Waterfront Hall in October, but pulled out the day after the Executive gave the go-ahead for live music to resume.

The withdrawal and its timing drew criticism as the venue sent out emails promising refunds.

But Jools insisted the decision had not been made on a “whim” — and promised to come back next year.

The band leader, singer and presenter of the long-running BBC show Later...with Jools Holland, explained the tour would have been a massive money loser.

A statement on behalf of the former Squeeze performer said: “It might help to know that the band are absolutely desperate to come to Ireland and play to you.

“Unfortunately we’re at the mercy of promoters, venues, financial and public health concerns. “(It was) not cancelled on a whim or because we can’t be bothered, we can assure you.”

The almost annual Jools shows — usually with special guests including Marc Almond and Jose Feliciano in recent years — have become a mainstay of the autumn entertainment calendar.

And during this year, while other artists including Dionne Warwick shifted their dates until next year, the October date with Jools and his band remained — until last week.

But Mr Holland’s spokesperson explained: “The decision to postpone would have been left late in the desperate hope there would be a way to make it work.

“Not sure about the Waterfront Hall but most other venues still unable to open to full capacity equals a huge loss of revenue. Plus travel, quarantine and Brexit restrictions... Touring something as big as Jools’ band is a very expensive undertaking. When we visit Ireland to make it viable we take in as many places as possible including Dublin.

“Brexit and Covid restrictions have made this visit impossible as everyone would lose a great deal of money. It’s a management and promoter decision. We the musicians just want to get on and play to you.”

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Eddi Reader

Eddi Reader

Eddi Reader

The Scottish singer Eddi Reader, who had a number of hits with her own band Fairground Attraction, including Perfect, had been due to appear with Jools at the October 23 concert.

And it is not clear who has been lined up for the 2022 tour, with the band still hoping to do some of their winter dates this year.

“Hopefully we’ll be back with you in 2022. We love Belfast. Absolute fantastic city and audience. It will be October 2022 all being well,” the JoolsRandBOrchestra tweeted.

A spokesperson for the Waterfront Hall said: “Live, in-person concerts have been sorely missed and we cannot wait to safely open our doors again. Our team has done an incredible job to reschedule as many events as possible. Although rescheduling was not possible on this occasion, we look forward to welcoming Jools Holland fans back to our venue in the future.”


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