Tintwistle’s comeback special makes for splendid concert

With the weather, there was a sense of deja vu for this year’s concert with Tintwistle Band. On the eve of Glasgow’s COP26 summit, the heavens opened big style in Saddleworth and Glossop. On their previous visit to Boarshurst Band Club in 2019, pretty similar stormy weather to yesterday’s concert.

Over two years after Andrew Mallon’s Boarshurst debut, Tintwistle Band’s Boarshurst concert was their first indoor one since the first lockdown. For Andrew and the band, it was great to be back to the old routine. If the weather gods smiled on them, they might have been rewarded with a few more concertgoers.

For those who braved the bad weather it was a most enjoyable concert. One that had a seldom heard Russian style march. Also four out of seven movements of Chris Hazell’s Three Brass Cats suite which made for a rare treat. Apart from the Chris Hazell pieces, you had a fairly traditional concert programme with nothing too challenging for the listener.

First Half

  1. Concert Opener: Prismatic Light (Alan Fernie)
  2. March: Vodka (Anthony Spurgin)
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Gary Lloyd): Rule Britannia (J. Hartmann)
  4. Light Concert Music: The American Dream (Elgar Howarth)
  5. Popular Music: Ticket To Ride (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Alan Fernie)
  6. Original Piece: Music For A Festival (Philip Sparke)

Second Half

  1. Light Concert Music: I Got Rhythm (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin, arr. Alan Fernie)
  2. Original Piece: Adventures in Brass (Ray Farr)
  3. Light Concert Music: The Ashokan Farewell (Jay Unger, arr. Alan Fernie)
  4. Light Concert Music: Mr Jums (Chris Hazell, arr. Alan Morrison)
  5. Light Concert Music: Black Sam (Chris Hazell, arr. Darrol Barry)
  6. Light Concert Music: Borage (Chris Hazell, arr. Darrol Barry)
  7. Light Concert Music: Kraken (Chris Hazell, arr. Alan Morrison)
  8. Popular Music: An American Trilogy (arr. Goff Richards)


  • March: I’m Still Standing (Elton John/Bernie Taupin, arr. Christopher Wormald).

For an hour’s more prismatic light, turn the clocks back

Our first piece of the night was Prismatic Light, an evergreen concert opener by Alan Fernie. The piece originally written for the Loanhead Youth Band’s 10th anniversary concert in 2012. With nods to the music of John Williams and Philip Sparke, it could be seen as a pastiche of previous concert openers (as Mr. Mallon mused after the performance). A fantastic start.

Like their October 2019 concert, we had another overlooked march. A Russian style march called Vodka. Written by Anthony Spurgin, it is a lively piece which is a worthy concert march. A good one that has a whiff of The Cossack in its composition. Good stuff.

From Russia we moved to La Royaune Uni – ja, Grosse Britannien. Great Britain in other words, for the one and only solo piece of the night. Enter on euphonium Gary Lloyd with J. Hartmann’s Rule Britannia. A staple of many Last Night of the Proms concert and a likely addition for their Remembrance Day one. There was delightful diction and incredible intonation in Gary’s performance. Superb.

For the fourth piece was a cracking tune by Elgar Howarth, one that was used for an American concert tour with Grimethorpe and Cory bands. Entitled The American Dream, it is a simple sounding piece which could be anything but simple to play for some bands. It was written by the then Grimethorpe Colliery Band musical director in 1976 and used on a concert tour, financed by America’s mining unions which commemorated the bicentenary of the US Declaration of Independence. A fantastic, brooding piece which symbolised the sweat and toil of the mineworkers.

With one member of the band not liking The Beatles, Andrew said in jest each concert programme includes a Beatles song. Continuing the coal theme was Alan Fernie’s arrangement of The Beatles’ Ticket To Ride. Over the last decade, Fernie’s arrangement – complete with a guard’s whistle and the hissing of steam train noises – has been a popular number at brass band concerts across the UK. It is understandable why, as it takes concertgoers back to the age of steam. Reminding us of the Flying Scotsman’s tour yesterday, Tintwistle Band put in a great performance.

In British railway terms, the ‘sparks effect’ refers to a rise in patronage due to the line’s electrification works. For our final piece of this half was the sparks effect of Mr. Philip’s Music For A Festival. Philip Sparke’s piece has three movements and was written for the 1985 National Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. Continuing the coal mining theme, it was the Third Section piece for the 2014 Butlins Mineworkers’ Contest (won by BMP Goodshaw Band that year). A neat little piece for taking us to the interval with another good performance.

“Who could ask for anything more…?”

After the interval, we resumed the concert with a lighter piece – a well-known one in George Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm. This was another solid arrangement by Alan Fernie. Though a fast paced song it was originally written as a slow number in the musical Girl Crazy. It is the final track on Mike Oldfield’s 1979 album Platinum (Wendy Roberts on vocals). It also featured on The Ethel Merman Disco Album (and she also sung this song in its more original form in Girl Crazy). A good start to the second half.

This was followed what was the second most ambitious piece of the night: Ray Farr’s Adventures In Brass. The six minute overture opens with a snatch of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. For many listeners, it is associated with The X Factor; for some listeners that shy away from this light entertainment show, it’s the theme for Old Spice aftershave. It also includes a few other folk tunes that make for a most enjoyable, yet fast-paced tune. Good stuff.

A real contrast to this is Jay Ungar’s and Molly Mason’s Ashokan Farewell. Written in 1982, this folk song was used as a farewell waltz at the Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camps. It has also been covered by various artistes and – for a song published in 1982 – is often regarded as a traditional American Civil War tune. (It was also used in PBS’ 1990 documentary series The Civil War). Another great effort.

After the raffle was a more lightweight yet listenable number. How could you not resist the slightly feisty yet peaceful Mr Jums by Chris Hazell? Based on a scruffy yet adorable ginger tom, it is a much-loved part of The Cats Suite (written for the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble). The suite in full is inspired by the stray cats that shared Chris Hazell’s home. As proven by Tintwistle Band’s performance, cats and brass band music make for a winning formula. (With the concert falling on Halloween, it was rude not to think of witches’ cats).

So much so that we didn’t only get his best known part of the Three Brass Cats suite. We were treated to another three of Hazell’s Brass Cats out of the seven. That of Black Sam, Borage and Kraken. To listen to four of them in succession was a real treat. Though some could say it padded out the programme, it worked well and Tintwistle Band gave a brilliant, measured performance of the four pieces.

The penultimate piece of the night was poignant due to Boarshurst hosting Tintwistle band’s first post-lockdown concert in an indoor venue. With three American Civil War songs (Dixie, The Battle Hymn of the Republic and All My Trials), An American Trilogy is one of Elvis Presley’s best known songs from his later years. In the UK it peaked at Number 8 in the singles charts in 1972. To this day, it is performed by many Elvis Presley tribute acts and brass bands around the world. Tintwistle Band’s rendition was one of many great performances.

As for their encore, the choice of piece could have been a statement of intent. A reflection of the band’s determination to get back to brass after lockdowns. From 1972, we moved to 1983 with Christopher Wormald’s arrangement of Sir Elton John’s I’m Still Standing. The single, best known for Russell Mulcahy video in Cannes, peaked at Number Four in the UK singles chart on the 27th August 1983, and topped the charts in Canada and Switzerland. A neat finish for what was a comeback special for Tintwistle Band.

* * *

Through wind, rain and flash flood water, we had a nice easy-going concert. Once more this was helped by Andrew Mallon’s excellent vocal delivery. There was some borrowed players that helped to make last night’s concert possible, with Louise and Marcus from Middleton Band in attendance.

In our last review, we said that “we hope it isn’t two years till we see Tintwistle Band at Boarshurst Band Club.” Thanks to this blasted pandemic, we were vindicated: two years and three days ago. We wish Tintwistle Band the very best and hope last night’s concert gave them the confidence to perform indoors again. On the 13th February 2022, they will be performing at Glossop Old Band Room.

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Next week’s band couldn’t be much more local to Boarshurst Band Club than anywhere else – they rehearse a few hundred yards south of The Brass Banding Mecca of the North. Greenfield Band will be making the short trip and admission is £4.00 or £3.00 for members of Boarshurst Band Club. Allowing for inflation, this is cheaper than the admission fee for watching a Section Four band in 2016.

Doors are open at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm start. Please arrive early to be sure of a good seat due to great local support. To find out more about Boarshurst Band Club’s excellent concerts, visit their Facebook page or go to their website. Oh, and don’t forget to tell your friends about these wonderful Sunday night concerts. If you like to spread the word on Twitter, follow their Twitter feed and use the #SundayBrass and #BackToBrass hashtags when you are tweeting.

Public Transport

  • 350 bus: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham (First Greater Manchester/Stagecoach Manchester).
  • Trains: Manchester Piccadilly – Stalybridge – Huddersfield (First Transpennine Express) – then walk along Shaw Hall Bank Road and Chew Valley Road till you see Greenbridge Lane on your right hand side. Turn right onto Greenbridge Lane.

Please alight outside the former Greenfield Conservative Club which is just before (to Oldham) or after (to Ashton) the zebra crossing. All post-7pm journeys of the 350 route are operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

S.V., 01 November 2021.

Tintwistle War Memorial image by Clem Rutter, 2010 (Creative Commons License: Attribution-ShareAlike).

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