WALTON Gardens, summer evening, ice cream van, children’s playground.

So far, so familiar.

But, less familiar, there are hundreds of people carrying folding chairs – a crowd flowing in one direction across the lawn.

That’s because Jools Holland is in Warrington.

A newly built stage pushes up through the trees, in the space occupied the previous weekend by Disability Awareness Day.

Seventy-five per cent of the entrants end up in pairs, in a very long line.

It’s the queue for the bar, where there are only two people serving.

We wait for about an hour before we finally get our hands on our drinks, an unnecessary trial that puts most of us in a grumbling mood before we even sit down.

Luckily, support act Jake Lukeman is there to cheer and warm us up on this cool night.

His gentle Irish humour is soothing, asking us to buy his CDs so he doesn’t have to take them back home on his Ryanair flight.

Winsford Guardian:

Then Jools is with us, and the greying sky lights up as boogie, soul, ska, blues and more genres combine.

The 17-piece band fills the air with saxophones, trumpets, trombones, drums, pianos and guitars, which fuse magically to lift us and sweep us along – conducted by Jools in a happy, relaxing and never frantic tempo.

This is no egotistic star and his backup band, a collection of fine musicians and vocalists, all contribute and are allowed to shine.

Highlights include Ruby Turner’s powerful vocals on To Love a Child, Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson of Selecter’s unexpected Doris Day tribute of Secret Love plus the more expected On My Radio/Too Much Pressure.

We all singalong for the finale Enjoy Yourself– as we know, ‘it’s later than you think, while we are still in the pink’.

Prompted by Jools seemingly angling for his bed, we stumble off into the night hoping we can find our cars.

  • The concert with Jools Holland is the latest in a number of open air events coming to Walton Hall this year including outdoor theatre, cinema screenings, food markets and the Walton Country Fair.