IF you’re a lover of live music, there is no better place to be than at Ronnie Scott’s in London – especially when the venue is heaving and the music electrifying. It’s a place infused with music. Infectious. Dark. Exhilarating. Music on steroids. And with wicked Negronis to keep you focused.
On Monday night, Ronnie’s demonstrated that the thirst for live music is as passionate as ever. The collective pulse raced into overdrive as Jo Harrop melted hearts with her mix of beautiful, tender and sometimes painful love songs – broken up with occasional jazz standards. A sold out audience ensured the atmosphere remained razor sharp throughout.
Those watching appreciated the heart and soul that underpinned Jo’s set, helped by a superb band in bow tied Andy Davies (a master with the trumpet), James McCredie on guitar, Paul Edis on piano, Jihad Darwish on bass and Peter Adam Hill on drums. Accompanying them was the accomplished all-female string quartet, Amika.
It was a thrilling night as Jo, dressed in magnificent white, showcased her new album: The Heart Wants. An album constructed during lockdown (co-produced by McCredie and Hannah Vasanth) and comprising songs written by herself and Paul Edis – as well as homages to Tom Waits and Duke Ellington. A truly worthy follow up to 2020 album Weathering he Storm.
After an affectionate introduction from Nigel Williams (the voice of Jazz FM), Jo demonstrated why her star is very much in the ascendency. With a voice both mellow and mellifluous, she bombarded the audience with an orgy of love songs: both painful in their intensity and heart wrenching. The audience cooed and aarghed.
The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants, the album’s opener, set the scene. Jo, her voice sultry, the words painful: ‘nothing like a fool in love.’ Davies accompanied her on his trumpet, adding to the song’s pain.
Everything’s Changing – another song taken from the album – was beautiful with Jo stating that she hoped the words would ‘move us’. They did – a song of beauty.
A cover of Henry Mancini’s Charade – with McCredie on guitar (from the album Weathering The Storm) – was followed by a number of tracks from The Heart Wants: a tender Hold On (a song from the heart: ‘I can still taste your lips’), a pared back I Think You’d Better Go and Duke Ellington’s All Too Soon.
Life Inside, written by George Glew, was achingly beautiful while If I Knew (the trigger for the new album) was an impassioned song about making the most of those whom you love (Jo does a lot of love).
With a poignant take on Tom Waits’ song Rainbow Sleeves, Paul Edis’s Wise Words (‘don’t forget where you started’), the set finished with Randy Newman’s Guilty – Davies extracting extraordinary sounds from his trumpet.
This was a magical night. Ronnie’s at its best. Love coursing through the dark. Harrop right on top of her music.
Those who missed out should visit joharrop.com and check out her tour – starting in Newcastle Upon Tyne (May 10) and running through until November (Ambleside). You will not be disappointed. Especially if you like a little love with your Negroni.
The heart wants Jo Harrop. By the glassful.