Mass Brass IV: Saddleworth’s Brass Banding Bonanza Goes Forth

May the fourth Mass Brass be with you on Saturday

Once upon a time, in a part of Saddleworth far far away, an enterprising brass band hit upon the idea of a concert featuring themselves and three other brass bands. Three others from the Saddleworth area, from Junction 22 of the M62 right down to Well I’Th’ Hole Road, thought it was a good idea.

Come the 2017th year of our Lord, the initial concert was a success. So much so there was another the year after. Then another. And another one… The one-off event spawned a monster and – like a certain Science Fiction film franchise – could spring several spin-offs and sequels.

Was the first Mass Brass event really three concerts ago? This year sees the fourth Mass Brass concert. As well as Boarshurst Silver Band, there are (as usual) three other bands from the Saddleworth area.

This year’s event will see the appearance of a band from outside Saddleworth. Yes, the other side of Pennines though still in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Slaithwaite Band will be making their Mass Brass début on Saturday. They will be performing with the genii behind Mass Brass (Boarshurst Silver Band), Dobcross Youth Band and Delph Band.

Previous Mass Brass events have been held at the end of March or start of April. This year’s event will be earlier than usual, being held at the opposite end of March. The time and venue, as of before, is 7.30pm at Uppermill Civic Hall.

Over 120 reasons to go to Mass Brass IV

The last twelve months has been an exciting one for the Saddleworth brass banding scene. Boarshurst Silver Band are settling in to life as a Championship Section Band. Uppermill Band, after winning the Third Section National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain title, won the Second Section Regional title in Blackpool over a week ago.

Uppermill’s Regional Finals stablemates were no slouch either on Sunday: Delph Band finished fourth in Blackpool. For Matt Hindle’s Slaithwaite Band, The Golden Sabre also proved to be a lucky test piece; the Colne Valley band finished third at Brass At The Wire. Saturday’s concert could be a dress rehearsal for the following Sunday’s Yorkshire Regional Finals at Huddersfield Town Hall.

Over at Blackpool Winter Gardens last week, Dobcross Youth Band took part in the Fourth Section Regional Finals with the test piece Neverland. Dobcross Youth Band finished fifteenth, with their senior fellows at Dobcross Silver Band finishing in seventh place.

The Youth Band has previously wowed audiences at Boarshurst Band Club with Seth Livingstone as Musical Director. Could he help to blow the audience away this year, like his predecessor did in Uppermill last year?

What’s more, your tenner (or eight quid) will enable you to see The World’s 91st Greatest Brass Band with three other bands, which is excellent value for money. You cannot get to see the 91st placed League side in England for that little. (I went to their ground in 2002 and it costed me a tenner to sit in the away stand – for an F.A. Trophy Quarter Final game).

As well as being ranked 91st in the world, Boarshurst Silver Band is the 10th best brass band in the North West of England according to BrassStats.com. With three more bands, you will be in for a great night.

A beginners’ guide to Mass Brass

  • If you have never been to any of the previous Mass Brass events, each of the four brass bands play a short concert set with four or five pieces. If desired, one of their mini concerts may include a solo performance.
  • After the second band have performed their concert programme, there will be a 20 minute long interval prior to the third band’s performance.
  • After the fourth band have performed their concert programme, there is a short break. At that point, equipment is moved about so that all four bands could perform a piece or two in unison. Some brass band players might have to perform in front of the stage (so woe betide anyone sat at the front row who has tinnitus).
  • Drinks are available before the concert and during the interval. Raffle tickets are sold in the foyer. If you wish to pay on entry or collect your tickets, they are available from the same table.
  • As parking is at a premium behind Uppermill Civic Hall, the 84, 350 and 356 bus routes operate after 7pm. If you are fine with the walk uphill (and the walk downhill), your nearest bus stop is on High Street, outside The Hare and Hounds pub (Manchester, Oldham or Ashton-under-Lyne) or the former NatWest Bank (Delph, Dobcross, Diggle or Oldham).

If you thought four brass bands weren’t enough, what about five in a weekend?

After Mass Brass IV, you might get the urge to see another brass band. Stockport Silver Band will be coming to Boarshurst Band Club on the following Sunday. Admission is a cool £4.00 (£3.00 for members of Boarshurst Band Club). As with most concerts at Boarshurst Band Club, the fun begins at 8pm with doors open at 7pm. Plus there’s a variety of bottled ciders, craft beers, not-so-craft beers and (best of all) Donkeystone Brewing Company’s Cotton Clouds ale.

Or six…?

At 2pm, Stretford Band will be heading to Glossop Old Band Room. Conducted by Adam Delbridge-Smith, they can trace their lineage with Sale Brass (if there was a brass banding equivalent of Who Do You Think You Are? this could make for a fascinating yarn). With free admission, raffle, auction, and their notorious bucket collection, it all makes for a good afternoon. Mouselow Farm Brewery ales are also available at £2.50 a pint – locally sourced and brewed on the outskirts of Glossop.

One more thing…

As with the concerts at Boarshurst Band Club, expect to see a review of Mass Brass IV on East of the M60. At least halfway through next week after the Stockport Silver Band concert review.

To book tickets for Mass Brass IV, just contact any of the four participating brass bands (Slaithwaite Band, Boarshurst Silver Band, Dobcross Youth Band, and Delph Band). Please note that if you wish to pay on the night, entry cannot always be guaranteed. To be sure of a good seat, arrive as early as possible to avoid disappointment as individual seats cannot be reserved.

S.V., 02 March 2020.

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