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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Jamie Cullum lights up The Rose

Image by Banquet Records

“Food for the soul.” That is how S described Jamie Cullum’s gig at Kingston’s The Rose Theatre yesterday.

On the day when the Government announced a hammer blow new closure for theatre’s and arts venues across the capital, Cullum’s back-to-back shows with Banquet Records were a beacon of light for fans of both his music and the arts.

The crowd was socially-distanced and clad in masks, which lent the event a strange atmosphere as some were unsure whether to follow usual gig protocol of waving mobile phones and dancing along or stay seated. Ever the master showman, Cullum soon had everyone on board, as he and his reduced band whipped the crowd into a joyful frenzy. At points you could almost feel the sigh of relief from viewers – and performers – at enjoying a moment of live theatre.

“It’s not all of us,” Cullum told the crowd, “but it is enough.”

And it certainly was. For more than an hour, he and the band tore through songs from his new The Pianoman at Christmas album and treated us to lively and stripped-back versions of jazz classics and old favourites from his back catalogue.

By the third song, the crowd were clapping and singing along as directed (in most cases). Masks and seats did not inhibit the enjoyment or stop the fun. As most have throughout this weird year, everyone took the changes in their stride and carried on in a new way.

“I’ll probably forget the words to this one,” Cullum laughed at one point, highlighting the enforced downtime which all artists have endured – along with many others – during the last year.

What followed was, of course, a perfect rendition of his hit When I Get Famous.

But this was more than just entertainment. It was a truly nourishing and brightening experience. Each of us left the theatre with a song in our hearts and a light in our soul. On this day, in Kingston, Cullum and his fellow artists reminded us all exactly why they matter so much.

I am not among those who believe theatres should be kept open in the face of medical or scientific advice, nor that they should be forced to operate in conditions which devastate their future prospects. But the failure of the powers that be to support and provide funding for these industries is nothing short of criminal.

On this day, Jamie Cullum, his band and Banquet Records reminded us exactly why we need the arts, now more than ever.


Banquet Records is an independent record shop in Kingston. On top of selling any kind of music you can imagine, they also put on live music shows throughout the year. Check them out here.

Main image courtesy of Banquet Records on Twitter

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