Rather like the swirling cameras employed by directors of BBC Two's Later, Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra is increasingly revolving around the diminutive figure in black rather than featuring him as a main player.

These 20-piece big-band shows are a prime indicator of Holland's niche in British music. There might be divided opinion of his playing skills and his vocal style can be slightly reedy, but he is the prime facilitator – a champion of proper players and the man who has been helping to put bread on the table of many musicians for a decade.

Audiences know what to expect and the good people of Perth were up on their feet and dancing early in the evening. It was clear many of the sold-out crowd were repeat attendees. There's no need for innovation.

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However, there is real skill in bringing together an evening of music covering gospel, ska, reggae, pop, moments of the Great American Songbook and original compositions – one based on Wagner. In less capable hands than Holland's, it could be horribly disjointed. Rather like the heyday of big bands, each player gets their moment in the spotlight. It feels more casual here though – a party where everyone is expected to do a turn.

Holland always chooses interesting guest vocalists. Here, it was Roland Gift of the Fine Young Cannibals, who bounded on and appeared to have the time of his life as he delivered a flawless mini set of FYC hits.

There is surprisingly little in the way of chat, but Holland's introductions are witty and relaxed – he looks happier at the piano encouraging the audience to join in. At its heart this is a sophisticated knees-up, and that will never go out of fashion.

Perth Festival

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