A neat concert with a good mix of old favourites and modern classics

Over the last week, the village of Thornton and its neighbouring town has been in the news. That being the small matter of a railway line which saw its last passengers in 1970 and its last freight train in 1999. If successful, trains could return to Fleetwood town centre for the first time since 1966.

Back in 1966, a band that was formed in the wake of Thornton-Cleveleys Silver Band’s demise had begun to find its feet. They had had entered the Golborne Contest the previous year in the Section C and Section D competitions. By 1999, when the last trains ran to Burn Naze ICI works, Thornton-Cleveleys Brass Band started picking up respectable results in the NWABBA contests. Two years later, they would become a Third Section band.

After a five-year stint in the Fourth Section, Thornton-Cleveleys Brass Band returned to the Third Section in 2017, thanks to their previous musical director Stephen Craig. Since our last review, he was replaced by David Houghton, late of Brindle, Golborne and Lostock Hall brass bands.

Since his appointment they won the Third Section title at the Brass In The Wire contest at Parr Hall, Warrington. They also won the solo prizes for the Best Cornet, Best Percussion, Best Trombone and Best Basses. Almost a clean sweep as Pilling Jubilee Silver Band picked up the Best Horn prize, in addition to their second place finish.

From what we saw, the strongest aspects of Thornton-Cleveleys Brass Band’s concerts came from their solo performances. There was a joyous mix of modern classics and old favourites to suit all audiences in what was a most easy-going concert. Nothing too scary nor heavy going: just a neat concert with a good-to-honest running order.

As for David’s delivery between pieces, humorous and informative without the waffle. Whether we could say that about the Transport Minister’s Fleetwood Branch Line promise is another story.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: The Cossack (William Rimmer);
  2. Cornet Solo (performed by Nicola Gates): Pater Noster (Rebecca Lundberg);
  3. Film Music: Star Trek Into Darkness (Michael Giacchino, arr. David Houghton);
  4. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Natalie Beddows): Run To You (Judd Friedman/Allan Rich, arr. Darrol Barry);
  5. Hymn: Love Unknown (John Ireland, arr. Steve Robson);
  6. Euphonium Solo (performed by Dave Cummins): Scottish Folk Variants (Stephen Bulla);
  7. Hymn Medley: Hymns of Praise (Various, arr. Goff Richards).

Second Half

  1. Concert Opener: Olympic Fanfare and Theme (John Williams, arr. Peter Graham);
  2. Light Concert Music: Witch of the Westmerlands (Archie Fisher, arr. Philip Harper);
  3. Horn Solo (performed by Nicola Holland): He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (Bob Russell/Bobby Scott, arr. B.P. Crookes);
  4. Eb Bass Solo (performed by Ian Holland): Song For The Skies (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  5. Film Music (from The Greatest Showman): This Is Me (Benj Pasek/Justin Paul, arr. Marc Jeanbourquin);
  6. Light Concert Music: The Golden Lady (Goff Richards);
  7. Film Music: You Know My Name (David Arnold/Chris Cornelly, arr. Adam D.J. Taylor).


  • Light Concert Music: Hootenanny (Harold L. Walters).

To boldly go… where no Lancastrian band has gone before

For the second week running, we opened the concert with William Rimmer’s The Cossack. Inspired by people from South East Russia, the Southport-born composer’s march is a popular one at Whit Friday band contests from Denshaw to Denton Cricket Club. Apart from reminding us of the fact there were 124 days to go till Whit Friday, a good start from Thornton-Cleveleys Brass Band.

Next up was the first of our five solo performances. This time with our award-winning Principal Cornet soloist, Nicola Gates playing Pater Noster. Last year, this was played by Natalie Beddows on flugelhorn. As for Rebecca Lundberg’s piece, it encapsulates the versatility of brass band music. As a cornet solo, none of its effectiveness was diminished. A lovely piece, well performed by Nicola.

For the third piece, we boldly went where few bands on the Fylde peninsula have ever gone before. If you said ‘Star Trek’, well done. If you said Star Trek Into Darkness, you must have been peeking at the M.D.’s first half running order. Arranged by the band’s Musical Director, the theme from Star Trek Into Darkness was written for the 2013 film by Michael Giacchino. Produced and directed by J.J. Abrams, it is the twelfth instalment of the Star Trek franchise and the sequel to the 2009 Star Trek film. A neat original addition to the programme and worthy of addition to any space-themed concert.

Boldly going forward to her podium was last night’s flugelhorn soloist Natalie Beddows. This time with Whitney Houston’s Run To You, a brooding number that was used in Mick Jackson’s 1992 box office smash The Bodyguard. Released in the summer of 1993, it didn’t quite have the same success as I Will Always Love You. Whereas the cover of Dolly Parton’s tune was Number One in the UK singles chart for ten weeks, this song peaked at Number 15. Another good performance.

Next on the running order was our first hymn of the night. One that gave them great success at a rain-lashed Blackburn with Darwen Hymn and March Contest last September. Every time I hear John Ireland’s Love Unknown, I am instantaneously transported back to any of the Brighouse or Hebden Bridge contests. That due to the sheer power of the hymn based on Samuel Crossman’s My Song is Love Unknown. Thornton-Cleveleys Brass Band delivered the goods and took your reviewer back to Thornton Square for the best part of three minutes.

Nevertheless, the next stop on our highly fictitious Duple-bodied AEC Reliance coach was Gretna Green. A toilet break for Stephen Bulla’s Scottish Folk Variants, lovingly performed by last night’s euphonium soloist Dave Cummins. Ideal for a concert closer to Burns Night or St. Andrew’s Day, it was written by Stephen Bulla for Derick Kane and the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army. With reference to Derick’s Scottish roots, this suite includes The Dashing White Sergeant, My bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, The Skye Boat Song and Bonnie Dundee. As for Dave’s performance, another good day in the office.

If you thought you had your fill of suites or medleys, our last piece of the first half was a medley of hymns. Britain’s favourite hymns no less, as part of a viewers’ poll on BBC One’s Songs of Praise. The one arranger best qualified to splice and dice our favourites into a pithy suite was the late Goff Richards. Hymns of Praise succeeds in doing so with favourites like Abide With Me, Shine, Jesus Shine, and Make Me a Channel of Your Peace. Jolly good stuff.

It ain’t heavy, that’s my E flat bass

If you remember the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, you might remember the jet pack flight in its opening ceremony. Set to a packed crowd and Arnold Schwartzman OBE‘s delectable graphics was John Williams’ Olympic Fanfare and Theme. Since then, it has established itself as a stunning concert opener for many brass bands. Thornton-Cleveleys Brass Band got us off to a good start in the second half with this number.

Our next piece was far removed from the razzmatazz of the Los Angeles games. From Daley Thompson’s heroics that year we moved on to the musical heroics of Philip Harper (via Archie Fisher) with The Witch of the Westmerlands. The original piece came from Archie Fisher’s 1976 LP The Man With A Rhyme. It was arranged for The Leyland Band’s 2010 Brass In Concert programme and tells the story of a wounded knight in battle, brought back to life by the titular witch herself. Barbara Dickson later performed the song and took a shine to Philip Harper’s arrangement. She would have been impressed by last night’s performance.

Then again, Messrs Clarke and Nash would have been impressed with our fourth solo of the night. On the baritone horn, Nicola Holland performed what is The Hollies’ best known song, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. First charting in 1969, it peaked at Number Three. Then, following its use in an advert for Miller Lite lager, it peaked at Number One in 1988. Once again in 2012, thanks to The Justice Collective’s cover. The Justice Collective were a celebrity charity ensemble, fighting for justice for the 96 people killed by the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. Another good performance.

After the raffle came our fifth and final soloist of the night. Following our second Nicola of the night was our second Holland of the night: Ian Holland. This time with a Paul Lovatt-Cooper piece, Song For The Skies. Commissioned for Ian Neish, this Eb bass solo piece continued the Celtic feel we had with Stephen Bulla’s work. A fantastic performance which shows off a more mellow side to the instrument.

For our next piece, we moved on to a modern classic in the form of This Is Me from The Greatest Showman. Based on P.T. Barnum, the film was a box office smash in 2017. In the film it was performed by Keala Settle. Last week, this number was performed as part of a suite of three songs from the film by Vernon Building Society (Poynton) Brass Band. Owing to the amount of airplay it had at the time of release, This Is Me is by far the film’s best known song. Very good.

For our next piece, we moved on to another Goff Richards classic: the ever-irresistible Serotonin rush that is The Golden Lady. This original piece was written for Cornwall Youth Brass Band’s tour of Luxembourg. As for The Golden Lady, she stands atop an obelisk in Luxembourg City, dedicated to Luxembourgers who gave their lives to Allied Powers in both World Wars and the Korean War. A fantastic piece that was well performed.

For our final piece, we returned to the movies: this time with Chris Cornell’s and David Arnold’s You Know My Name from Casino Royale. This instalment of the James Bond franchise was released in 2006 – the same year when the Vue Cinema opened its doors in Cleveleys. The film with Daniel Craig as Bond has its roots in a 1954 American TV series and the unofficial film starring David Niven. It was the fourth highest grossing film of 2006 and – prior to the release of Skyfall in 2012 – the highest grossing James Bond film. Another good ‘un.

As for the encore, the choice of Hootenanny was a neat surprise. Harold L. Walters’ composition was our third medley of the night. This time with American folk songs. These include Frankie and Johnny and Down By The Riverside. Just the thing to get us tapping our feet in good time for our journey home or post concert beers. This was Thornton-Cleveleys Brass Band at their most vibrant, signing off with a truly radiant performance.

With five strong solo performances, Thornton-Cleveleys Brass Band gave us all another good two hours worth of brass band music. Programme wise, there was a fair amount of slow melodic tunes which were easy on the ear whilst testing the band. Some may find that approach a bit of an acquired taste, but I was happy with the programme. Most importantly, it was an accessible programme which would have happily rounded off any Sunday night in Greenfield, Greenford, Greenwich or Greenland.

Next Week…

Making the shortish trip across the Pennines will be Hepworth Band. The Championship Section band have never failed to give a good concert at Boarshurst Band Club, so next week’s concert should be no exception. Of late, they have changed musical directors with Ryan Watkins at the helm.

Doors are open at 7pm for an 8pm start. Admission will be £10.00 (or £8.00 for members of Boarshurst Band Club). Arrive in good time to get a good seat.

Public Transport:

  • Trains: Transpennine Express all-stations service from Manchester Piccadilly to Huddersfield call at Greenfield, also serving Mossley, Stalybridge, Marsden, and Slaithwaite stations.
  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham.

Alight at the former Greenfield Conservative Club. The 350 bus route is operated by First Greater Manchester and (after 6pm) Stagecoach Greater Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 03 February 2020.

2 thoughts on “Thornton-Cleveleys Brass Band, 02 February 2020: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

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