Littleborough Training Band: Sunday Lunchtime Brass at Boarshurst Band Club

Budding players’ band inspire in lively concert

The last Sunday in October saw the arrival of two Lancastrian bands to the Boarshurst Band Club. Prior to the evening concert with Stacksteads Band, Littleborough Training Band were the first of the two bands from the red rose county. Four miles north east of Rochdale, Littleborough is noted for Hollingworth Lake and Blackstone Edge.

Littleborough Training Band is an offshoot of Littleborough Band, who will be appearing at Boarshurst Band Club pretty shortly. Its parent band was formed in 1862. The Training Band was formed in April 2010. Adults as well as children are welcome; potentially, octogenarians can learn to play principal cornet as well as teenagers.

At the time of the concert, Littleborough Training Band were looking for a new Musical Director. Standing in for the regular M.D. was Laura Whittaker. Ms. Whittaker is also associated with the senior band as a flugelhorn player.

The programme was light-hearted and enjoyable, featuring three brass band versions of million-selling UK Number One singles in their set. It was clear that the Training Band enjoyed their visit to the Boarshurst Band Club.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Heroes (Andy Norman);
  2. Popular Music: Shake it Off (Taylor Swift/Shellback/Max Martin, arr. K.J. Stafford/Michael Oare);
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Louise): Fooling About (Gary Young);
  4. Original Music: Guava Guy (Andy Norman);
  5. Light Concert Piece: The Floral Dance (arr. Duncan Reid);
  6. Popular Music: The Final Countdown (Europe/Joey Tempest, arr. John Mortimer).

Second Half

  1. Popular Music: Happy (Pharrell Williams, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  2. Popular Music: Counting Stars (OneRepublic, arr. Matt Conaway/Jack Holt);
  3. Film Music (from Rocky III): The Eye of the Tiger (Frankie Sullivan/Jim Peterik, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Popular Music: Centuries (Fall Out Boy, arr. Nick Barratta);
  5. Film Music (from Sister Act): I Will Follow Him (Stole/Roma/Plante, arr. Goff Richards);
  6. Popular Music: Thriller (Rod Temperton, arr. Philip Harper).

Encore

  • Film Music (from The Blues Brothers): Everybody Needs Somebody (Berns/Burke/Wexler, arr. Alan Fernie).

The heroes’ final countdown

Our first piece was the first of two to be written by Andy Norman. Heroes is a powerful march piece which got the concert off to a good start. On Mr. Norman’s website, he regarded the piece as a possible film theme. I almost thought it was, but it was one of several free pieces by the composer.

Setting the lively tone for the afternoon was the arrangement of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. It appears on her 2014 album, 1989 (the year of the singer’s birth year). Though the piece might have alienated some older audience members (and myself, being a Child of the 1980s), it was a fantastic adaptation.

Our third piece was performed by Louise, the only soloist of the afternoon concert. She played, Fooling About. Written by Gary Young (not to be confused by The Guardian journalist), it is a popular piece for training bands and school bands. A superb performance.

The fourth item was another Andy Norman composition. This time, Guava Guy, which is a distant cousin of Watermelon Man and Cantaloupe Island (both by Herbie Hancock). This too was pleasing.

Our fifth item was a brass banding classic, though one with a difference. When you think of The Floral Dance, Terry Wogan’s version, or the Derek Broadbent arrangement springs to mind. Not least its use in Brassed Off. Instead, we received the equally fantastic and underrated arrangement by Duncan Reid. Needless to day, this fellow likes both.

Our sixth and final item of the first half was our first chart topper of the afternoon. This being Europe’s biggest UK hit, The Final Countdown. The power-pop classic, penned by Joey Tempest was covered by Sunderland-based new wave band, The Toy Dolls (with kazoos), and (possibly ruined by) Crazy Frog. This led us to the interval.

Counting stars with the Blues Brothers

After being suitably refreshed, they appropriately played the Pharrell Williams tune, Happy. Mr. Williams’ tune could be played on anything from a comb and paper to a euphonium, or Rick Wakeman’s bank of synthesizers, and still sound joyous. Littleborough Training Band’s version was just as luscious.

Staying within the 2010s, we continued with Counting Stars. Again, another modern song which made a seamless transition to brass band music. Taking us back to the 1980s was another UK Number One single. A nailed-on essential release for any ’80s DJ, The Eye of the Tiger was written for Rocky III.

Hitting the top spot in August 1982, the song was a case of ‘needs must’ for the film, as Queen refused their request to use Another One Bites The Dust. Alan Fernie’s arrangement was well played by the band.

Returning to the 2010s for one more time, was the brass band adaptation of Fall Out Boy’s Centuries. In the UK, the original version peaked at Number 22 in 2015, and topped the Rock and Metal charts. In brass banding terms, heavy metal means a seven-stone weakling carrying two tubas. Another solid performance.

For the penultimate non-encore piece, we return to the movies. This time with the ever-so-pleasing I Will Follow Him. The original version was Franck Pourcel in 1961 before being covered two years later by Little Peggy March (which didn’t chart in the UK). For many music lovers, it is the version used in Sister Act which stands out.

Appropriately for Halloween weekend, the last non-encore piece was Thriller. Michael Jackson’s most famous work (and the title track of his 1983 album). It spawned a memorable pop video with Vincent Price’s voice also committed to vinyl and celluloid. Jacko’s partnership with the (now late songwriter) Rod Temperton hit a scintillating peak.

There was nothing scary about Littleborough Training Band’s performance of the piece. Nor the concert as a whole which was light and lively with a compact sound. The brevity of their performance was an aural delight.

Closing off proceedings was Everybody Needs Somebody from The Blues Brothers. As an encore piece it worked on two levels. From an audience view, enough to get them leaving on a high. Not least the piece’s capacity for earworms. From a banding view, the title represents the cooperation and comradeship that characterises brass banding.

We hope to see more of Littleborough Training Band in the near future and wish them luck in their endeavours. Before this year is out, Littleborough Band will be coming to Boarshurst Band Club pretty soon.

Next Month…

Coming to Boarshurst Band Club on the 20 November, again with a 12.30pm start, are Delph Youth Band. Making the short journey across Saddleworth, they are the youth equivalent of the senior band. Of the Sunday Lunchtime Youth Brass concerts, this is likely to be the best received gig to date.

Getting There

Buses

Alight at the stop outside the Greenfield Conservative Club.

  • 180: hourly service from Greenfield [The Clarence] to Oldham, Hollinwood and Manchester [Oldham Street] (First Greater Manchester).
  • 350: hourly service from Ashton-under-Lyne, Mossley, Uppermill, Dobcross, Delph, Waterhead and Oldham for Greenfield (First Greater Manchester).
  • 354: buses every two hours departing Ashton-under-Lyne bus station at odd hours (0930, 1130, 1330, 1530, and 1730). Journeys from Greenfield at even hours (1011, 1211, 1411, 1611, and 1811). (MCT Travel).

Trains

Sunday service from Manchester Victoria and all stations including Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge and Mossley to Huddersfield for Greenfield. Please note that rail replacement buses may substitute trains for part of, or the whole of the day (check publicity at local stations or via the Northern Rail website for further details).

Twitter details and suggested hashtags: @boarshurstband#SundayYouthBrass; #SundayBrassYouth; #SundayLunchtimeYouthBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 02 November 2016.

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