Dobcross Brass Monkeys: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

Saddleworth’s jungle VIPs entertain appreciative audience on final leg of World Tour of Saddleworth

The West End; Broadway; Wembley Stadium; and the O2 Arena: they are nothing on the Boarshurst Band Club for their presentation of brass band music. For the likes of Adele, U2, The Three Degrees, and Coldplay, iconic venues. But Wembley Stadium doesn’t have a good chippy yards away from its royal box. Boarshurst Band Club does: that redeeming feature as well as a knowledgable audience is why the Dobcross Brass Monkeys chose this venue. For the last leg of their World Tour of Saddleworth.

Dobcross Brass Monkeys are one of the newest brass bands in Greater Manchester (or the West Riding of Yorkshire if you prefer). They are an offshoot of Dobcross Silver Band and use their club for rehearsals. Formed in 2009, they began as a non-contesting learners’ band. Anyone from seven to ninety-seven years of age could become a fellow Brass Monkey, if they fancy learning a brass instrument. H.G. Wells said everything augured well for civilisation each time he saw a cyclist. Your reviewer feels the same way when he sees someone taking up a principal cornet or a euphonium for the first time.

Instead of the pressures of local and regional contests, they are happy to perform at concerts and community events. Last year, they performed outside the former Oldham Town Hall – now today’s ODEON cinema, and Greater Manchester’s Building of the Year. They have brought Christmas cheer to many people, have performed in Whit Friday contests and Whit Walks, and at Remembrance Sunday parades. They offer a relaxed environment for budding players. Some have gone on to ‘proper banding’ with other local brass bands and the joys of local and national contests.

The Musical Director for Dobcross Brass Monkeys is Phil Cumberworth. Prior to conducting the band, he was involved in the senior Dobcross Silver Band. With a light hearted programme and Cumberworth’s humorous delivery, it was a joyous concert all round.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: March of the Cobblers (Bob Barrett/Edrich Siebert);
  2. Overture: Tancredi (Gioachino Rossini, arr. Ray Woodfield);
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Jacqui Rosedale): Leaning On a Lamp-post (Noel Gay, arr. Philip Sparke);
  4. Popular Music: A Whiter Shade of Pale (Gary Brooker/Keith Reid/Matthew Fisher, arr. Peter Weston);
  5. Musical Medley: Les Miserables Concert Suite (Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg, arr. Gavin Somerset);
  6. Popular Music: Haven’t Met You Yet (Michael Bublé/Alan Chang/Amy Foster-Gilles, arr. Gavin Somerset);
  7. Classical Piece: Intermezzo and Easter Hymn from Cavalleira Rusticana (Pietro Mascagni, arr. Dennis Wright).

Second Half

  1. March: Strike Up The Band (George Gershwin, arr. Ray Woodfield);
  2. Film Music (from Finding Nemo): Beyond The Sea (Charles Trenet/Jack Lawrence, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  3. Popular Music: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Bob Crewe/Bob Gaudio, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Popular Music Trio (performed by Simon, Chris, Bill): Under The Boardwalk (Peter Resnick/Kenny Young, arr. Philip Harper);
  5. Popular Music Medley: Tom Jones in Concert (selected pieces as follows: i. Delilah; ii. The Green Green Grass of Home; iii. Sex Bomb) (Tom Jones, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  6. Hymn: Be Still (In the Presence of the Lord) (David Evans, arr. Steve Tighe);
  7. Popular Music: The Final Countdown (Europe/Joey Tempest, arr. Frank Bernaerts).

Encore

  • Popular Music: Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond, arr. Frank Bernaerts).

Digging our scene

In traditional style, we opened with a march. Not just any old march, but one that featured in Brassed Off. That of The March of the Cobblers. If you are familiar with the film, it was used for the Whit Friday sequence where Grimley Colliery start their campaign in Delph. Unlike that scene, no pints of Carling nor Thwaites Smooth were imbibed near the end of this piece. A good start.

The second piece was an overture: this being from Gioachino Rossini’s Tancredi. The opera is based on Voltaire’s play, Tancrède. This was premiered at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice, on the 06 February 1813. More than 204 years later, Dobcross Brass Monkeys gave us a good performance of Rossini’s overture.

This took us to our one and only soloist of the night. On euphonium, Jacqui Rosedale performed a song made famous by George Formby in 1937. That of the Noel Gay composition Leaning on a Lamp-post. It was first performed 80 years ago by Valerian Rosing (known as Gilbert Russell after 1938). In the film Feather Your Nest where George Formby was a gramophone engineer. He substituted Rosing’s voice for his own, after breaking the master disc. Released on Regal Zonophone on the 05 September 1937, it was a nice little earner for George. Jacqui also made a good job of the piece too, eighty years on.

For our fourth piece, a nailed on rock classic based on a piece of classical music. That of Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale, which is based on Johan Sebastian Bach’s Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe, BWV 156. Which translates into English as I Am Standing with One Foot in the Grave. Performed at around the same time when the Victor Meldrew comedy used to go out on BBC One, a good whole band effort.

The fifth item saw us drifting away from 1967 towards 1815 (the year where Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables begins). This inspired our first medley of the night: the Les Miserables Concert Suite arranged by Gavin Somerset. This was a whistle-stop tour of the most popular songs from the 1980 musical version. After opening in the Palais des Sports in Paris that year, it went on to become one of the world’s most popular musicals. It’s in its thirtieth year at the West End, continuing to attract theatregoers to the Queen’s Theatre. Another good performance, far from miserable (no offence to Phil’s opinions on the musical).

From France, we move to another country where French is a popular spoken and written language: Canada. This time with a piece from a famous Canadian, Michael Bublé. Arranged by Gavin Somerset, Haven’t Met You Yet was a lighter departure. Recorded in 2009 – the same year as Dobcross Brass Monkeys’ formation – it was a global hit for Bublé. In the UK it peaked at Number Five in the singles chart and the rest they say… countless television appearances and million-selling albums. Plus a nod of approval from ITV, which gave him a few television specials around Christmas. As for the Brass Monkeys’ performance, another approving nod from our audience.

Whereas Haven’t Met You Yet has featured in a number of TV ads, the final piece of this half was used to advertise Kleenex tissues. We closed with the Intermezzo and Easter Hymn from Cavalleira Rusticana. Both movements feature in the single act opera by Pietro Mascagni. This was adapted from a play by Giovanni Verga. The intermezzo has also been used in the Robert de Niro film Raging Bull (1980), and an advertisement for Heineken. With the addition of the Easter hymn, a lovely finish to the first half.

“People say we monkey around…”

We opened the second half with a bit of George Gershwin, and another march at that. This time with Strike Up The Band. Written in 1927 for the eponymous musical, the title song was more popular than the musical itself. In 1937 it took on a second life as a song for the UCLA. This got the lively second half off to a good start.

Our second piece was made popular by another male vocalist. Courtesy of his Swing When Your Winning album from 2001, Robbie Williams endeared himself to a wider audience. One of its songs was Beyond The Sea by Charles Trenet and Jack Lawrence. Shortly after release, it was used on the end credits of Finding Nemo. Their performance of the Piscean piece was well received.

Equally well received was another classic piece: Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. It was a global hit for The Four Seasons in 1967. Andy Williams’ cover peaked at Number Five in the UK singles chart in 1968. For The Boys Town Gang, a UK Number Four in 1982. The Dobcross Brass Monkeys gave us a good version which led us to our next chart classic.

For the second consecutive Sunday, we were treated to another airing of Under The Boardwalk. This time with Simon, Chris, and Bill forming a trio. As stated in last week’s review (Tintwistle Band), it was a big hit for The Drifters. In 1987, it was revived by Bruce Willis. The Brass Monkeys’ version was similarly sumptuous.

If you visit several brass band concerts in a year, it’s not unusual to expect some duplication. Slightly more unusual is audience participation. Even more so, audience participation in a brass band concert with songs written after the Second World War (let alone 1917). This time, the Boarshurst audience were treated to Tom Jones in Concert. The Frank Bernaerts arrangement in full has six pieces. Instead, we heard three pieces, and we all had to sing along (Team Brass Monkeys dished out free programmes prior to the concert with the lyrics).

After their first rate display of Tom Jones themed tomfoolery, our penultimate piece was a hymn. Written by David Evans and arranged by Steve Tighe, was Be Still (In the Presence of the Lord). The heartwarming tune was written in memory of people affected by the 7/7 terrorist attack in London, in 2005. This offered a real contrast to the bombastic programme and was well played by the band.

The last piece (which Phil used to remind us about the arrival of Christmas) was a UK Number One single in 1986: that of The Final Countdown. Shortly before Christmas that year, it knocked off Berlin’s Take My Breath Away and had a two-week stint at the top spot. It has been covered by The Toy Dolls and Crazy Frog. Dobcross Brass Monkeys gave us a cracking cover of Joey Tempest’s best known piece.

With the audience begging for more, the encore gave us another singable number. In five minutes we moved from hair metal to evergreen karaoke standard: Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. Released in 1969, it was inspired by John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline. At Boarshurst, you could solemnly swear that good times never felt so good for the Brass Monkeys. This was reflected by the audience’s reaction at the end of the concert.

Whether you wish to support the Brass Monkeys as a spectator or a player, give them a go. As well as Remembrance Sunday engagements, they will be performing at the Friezland Christmas Fair on the 18 November. If you fancy joining Phil Cumberworth and Co., they rehearse on Mondays and Thursdays at the Dobcross Band Club. If you fancy a blow, give them a go. They also have their own website and Facebook page.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Our next concert at the Boarshurst Band Club will be Middleton Band. This will take place on the 05 November at 8pm (doors open at 7pm as usual). They are a long established band with a senior band and a youth band – both of which no strangers to The Mecca of Brass Banding.

They started out as the Middleton Perseverance Drum and Pipe Band. Due to the youthful age of their players, they were known as The Pop and Ale Boys (some members were too young to get served in pubs). After joining forces with the Rhodes United Brass Band, they became the Middleton Perseverance Brass Band and ditched the flutes.

In 1884, they changed their name to the Middleton Borough Brass Band. The ‘borough’ was dropped in 1974, when the Municipal Borough of Middleton was absorbed into Rochdale MBC. In 1976, they moved to a new club on Water Street, thanks to support from J.W. Lees brewery.

Buses (to Boarshurst Band Club):

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

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

Boarshurst on the Road

If you cannot wait until the 05 November, Boarshurst Silver Band will be performing at the Glossop Old Band Room on the 29 October 2017. Admission is free and part of the concert includes a raffle, an auction, and a bucket collection.

Buses (to Glossop Old Band Room from Greenfield):

  1. Catch the 350 (First Greater Manchester) or 355 (MCT Travel) bus to Ashton-under-Lyne bus station;
  2. Catch the 1232 journey of the 237 (Stagecoach Manchester) bus to Glossop (via Stalybridge, Tintwistle, and Hadfield).

From Glossop town centre, walk up Victoria Street till you see Derby Street on your left hand side. At Derby Street, turn left until you see the Glossop Old Band Room on your left. Alternately, take a taxi from the taxi rank outside The Norfolk Arms public house (fare: £3.00).

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 23 October 2017.

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