Ashton Jones at The Music Room

It’s hard not to be amused and delighted by vocalist Ashton Jones, backed by the excellent and tight Innerheart band, who launched Friday’s Grand Opening Night of The Music Room in Ipswich.

Jones oozes raw energy and mischief; a showman who clearly loves his job. His vocal range incorporates rich and soulful lyrical tenor and he’s a bit of a falsetto screamer too (in a good way). The ticket price would have been worth it to see Jones’ mesmerising facial expressions and bendy dance moves; as if he was chewing a mouthful of the world’s toughest toffee whilst dodging a hive of angry bees.

Venue Promoter Luke Hughes delivered on his promise of a great night of soul and funk to launch the town’s new venue for live music in Duke Street near the Waterfront. Ashton Jones teased the audience onto their feet quickly, with confident audience patter and a tight, masterful cover of the James Brown classic, “Sex Machine”.

It was a high energy, upbeat programme. The generous two sets were punctuated with a DJ set and the show kicked off at a rapid pace. Plenty of old-skool floor-fillers were included, such as “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” by McFadden and Whitehead and Kool and the Gang’s “Ladies Night”, with “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire in the mix with other classics.

The refurbished venue looked in good shape too, with much-refreshed décor and a decent sized bar. Noteworthy was the warm welcome from the doormen and all the front of house staff, although they will need to serve and clear glasses much faster when the venue gets to full 450 capacity.

The appreciative audience (some of us closer to 55 than 25) hit the dancefloor from the first song and stayed there the entire night.   Never has there been such a need for an on-site physiotherapist. Roll on the next live music show in July, a ska night!