Slaithwaite Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

Seventeen superb pieces from Slawit

A packed out Boarshurst Band Club bore witness to a superb concert with Slaithwaite Band. Among the regulars which frequent the Band Club was a sizeable turnout from Slaithwaite who made the short trip to the Saddleworth area. Throughout its seventeen pieces (including encore), was an entertaining programme, one which offered a mix of the popular and the traditional.

Throughout each half, there was an underlying theme: decades. A decade for each half. The first half had a 1970s theme. The second half took us to the 1980s. Studying in the latter decade, and making his return to Boarshurst Band Club was Rob Westacott. In 2016, this was his second appearance (he was with Diggle last week). As Musical Director for Slaithwaite, this should have been his second appearance. Instead it was his Boarshurst début as M.D. The story behind this? Well I shall tell you later.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Overture: Around the World in Four Minutes (Jonathan Bates);
  2. Cornet Solo (performed by Joanne Griffith): Share My Yoke (Major Jo Webb, arr. Ivor Bosanko);
  3. Popular Music: Bohemian Rhapsody (Freddie Mercury, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Musical (from The Witness: A Musical): In Love For Me (Bertrand Gay);
  5. Soprano Cornet Solo (performed by John Mitchell): Theme from Bilitis (Francis Lai, arr. Simon Kerwin);
  6. Song: Swing Low With Grace (Arr. Rob Westacott);
  7. March: They’re Off (Fred Jewell, arr. Sandy Smith);
  8. Popular Music: Music (John Miles, arr. Philip Sparke).

Second Half

  1. Overture: Roccata (Darrol Barry);
  2. Popular Music: Hello (Lionel Richie, arr. Darrol Barry);
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Peter Brier): The Rose (Amanda McBroom, arr. Juri Briat);
  4. Film Music: Let’s Face the Music and Dance (Irving Berlin, arr. Goff Richards);
  5. Popular Music: Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen, arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Neil Hardy): Mama (Quiz/Larossi/Per Magnusson/David Kreuger, arr. Colin Dance);
  7. Hymn: Blaenwern (Nigel Lawless);
  8. Classical: Finale from Symphony No. 2, The Resurrection (Gustav Mahler, arr Christopher Wormald).


  • Popular Music: Paint It, Black (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, arr. Leigh Baker).

We began proceedings in bombastic style with Jonathan Bates’ Around the World in Four Minutes. An intense piece, it has a healthy dose of treble notes with enough to build excitement for the next sixteen pieces. The composer, Jonathan Bates, is a local lad from Huddersfield and the Principal Tenor Horn player for Black Dyke Band.

As promised by our musical director, there was plenty of solos to come. Our first of the four solos was on Principal Cornet. Beautifully played by Joanne Griffith was the Salvation Army piece Share My Yoke. A brass band concert standard, it is a delicate piece often played by soloists. One that also works well in a full band setting.

For the first piece of popular music (and our first of four trips to the mid-to-late 1970s), we were treated to a rock classic. One that was played heavily by the late great Kenny Everett on Capital Radio, prior to its first stint at the top of the singles chart in 1975. No prizes for guessing which Queen song: Bohemian Rhapsody. Our arrangement was penned by Alan Fernie, and a pleasing one at that.

Staying in the same decade was the minimal yet winsome In Love For Me. Taken from The Witness: A Musical, the Christian musical is based on Jesus Christ’s life, as told from the story of disciple, Peter. Also known as The Easter Musical, it is written by Jimmy and Carol Owens. On its release, the lead role of Peter was played by Barry McGuire, a UK One Hit Wonder with the Eve of Destruction.

Our second soloist – this time, John Mitchell on Soprano Cornet – played another 1970s piece. This time, the signature tune to the French film, Bilitis. The Theme from Bilitis, composed by Francis Lai, is often heard in synthesizer form. John Mitchell’s performance proved how a soprano cornet interpretation equalled the synthesizer based original.

The next piece was a mash-up, with the title a portmanteau of two well known songs. Swing Low With Grace was arranged by our musical director. Where he wrote the piece is of particular interest: as one member of his family had chickenpox, his two-week break in Malta was extended to four weeks. During the spare fortnight, he wrote Swing Low With Grace. Cue several trips to McDonalds for its free WiFi. The same holiday also scuppered his Boarshurst début as Musical Director.

The segue of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot into Amazing Grace worked pretty well. A neat twist on two stirring yet quasi-patriotic songs. The above piece could have suited a Rugby Union international between England and Scotland. Our next piece wouldn’t have been out of place with televised horse racing. The penultimate piece of the first half was They’re Off. Written by Fred Jewell and arranged by Sandy Smith, it could have been filed under Music for Playing Escalado To.

We closed the first half with the late 1970s concert standard, Music. For the benefit of any younger readers, this is John Miles’ best known piece instead of Madonna’s. Arranged by Philip Sparke, it is a favourite piece in numerous concerts. Apart from Music, John Miles’ other hits were High Fly and Slow Down.

The second half began with another bombastic piece. This time with our second overture of the night, Roccata. Not to be confused with J.S. Bach’s Toccata with Fugue (or Sky’s version from 1980), this is a lively, slightly rockier sibling. Darrol Barry is a Salford man whose present role is a far cry from being in damp Pendleton. That of Resident Composer and Arranger for the Royal Guard of Oman.

For our second piece, we drifted towards the 1980s. This time for another Darrol Barry arrangement, and our second Lionel Richie song of the 2016 Sunday Brass season. Our piece was his 1984 Number One single, Hello. This was a warm piece, well played by the whole band.

This was followed by our third soloist of the night. On Euphonium, Peter Brier. The piece was the Amanda McBroom song, The Rose. Popularised by Bette Midler, this was the eponymous theme tune to the 1979 film. It was also dedicated to the late Jo Cox M.P., whom we mentioned in last week’s review of Diggle Band. Thanks to Monsieur Cowell and Co., it had taken on a new lease of life as a popular piece on The X Factor. Directed by Mark Rydell, the film chronicles the life of a tragic rock star.

This was followed by a more upbeat number and our first Irving Berlin number. Apropos for recent events outside the brass banding world, was Let’s Face the Music and Dance. It was originally written for the 1936 film, Follow The Fleet, co-starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. 41 years later, it was used in the 1977 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special. This time with newsreader, presenter, and hoofer, Angela Rippon.

31 years later, Christmas was dominated by Alexandra Burke’s Christmas Number One single, Hallelujah. Originally written by Leonard Cohen and sung by Jeff Buckley, it was the winner’s song in the 2008 series of The X Factor. Eight years later, it was beautifully played by Slaithwaite Band, and it neatly took us to the raffle.

After the unprecedented sighting of Rob Westacott’s success in the raffle (the first Musical Director to leave Boarshurst with a raffle prize in the 2016 season of concerts), we came to our third Simon Cowell associated piece. This time, for our last solo, Neil Hardy on Tenor Horn with Mama. The piece was beautifully performed by Neil, as he did the Il Divo piece justice.

The seventh piece gave us an idea as to what hymn they may be playing at the Brighouse contest [next week]. Their choice of hymn, and the only hymn of the night, was Blaenwern. Nigel Lawless is associated with Diggle Band, and the hymn is an arrangement of a traditional Welsh piece.

Prior to the encore, we ended almost as we began with a bombastic piece. This time, giving the Slaithwaite Band a good workout was Gustav Mahler’s Finale from Symphony No. 2: The Resurrection. Also a fitting piece, being as the band is making progress towards the 1st section. For a time, they were one of the best bands in Yorkshire, up with Black Dyke Mills and Brighouse and Rastrick.

After a sweet sixteen pieces, the supreme seventeenth piece for our encore had a slight local theme. A tenuous one, as the co-writer’s Dad used to live in Saddleworth and enjoy a trip to The Clarence for a pint or three. If you add another vowel into ‘pint’, you get ‘paint’. Then you get one third of their 1966 Number One Hit.

Slaithwaite Band closed the concert with Paint It, Black. The Rolling Stones tune, arranged by Leigh Baker, started with a teasing quiet section. This was reminiscent of Vanessa Carlton’s cover version on her 2003 album Be Not Nobody. Then we came to the version of Paint It, Black we knew and loved the most: the guitar and bass thrash – brilliantly emulated in brass form.

Once more, a fantastic night, and a packed house at the Boarshurst Band Club which made for a great atmosphere.

*               *               *

Next on the agenda for Slaithwaite Band is the legendary Brighouse Hymn and March Contest. This will also explain my absence from next week’s concert. Therefore, in place of the usual Sunday Brass dispatches, there may be a Road Report from this year’s contest.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

For our next soirée avec le Boarshurst Band Club, is the Dobcross Brass Monkeys. In spite of the incongruous name for this time of the year (supposedly summertime), they are an adult training band. From there, players of all ages (from absolute beginner level) progress to other bands in Saddleworth and surrounding area.

Prior to formation, the Musical Director of Dobcross Silver Band, Grenville Moore, had his hands full trying to manage two bands. Furthermore, he noticed a gap between Dobcross Silver and Dobcross Youth bands. The yawning lack of an adult learners’ band. This was bridged in 2009 when Dobcross Brass Monkeys was formed. The following year saw the appointment of Phil Cumberworth as Musical Director. Today, all three Dobcross bands – including next week’s guests – can be seen on the Whit Walks and at the Whit Friday Brass Band Contests.


  • 180: Greenfield [Clarence Hotel] – Lees – Oldham – Hollinwood – Manchester [Oldham Street];
  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham.

Alight at Greenfield Conservative Club. Both services operated by First Greater Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.


S.V., 27 June 2016.


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