Another sweet sixteen pieces from The Happiest Band in Saddleworth

Three years on from their previous concert at Boarshurst Band Club, Greenfield Band set out on their mission to be The Happiest Band in Saddleworth. By 9.35 pm, they succeeded with an enjoyable programme of popular music, brass banding classics and cheesy tunes.

Since the first lockdown, Greenfield Band has had two Musical Directors: Tom Haslam and Phil Goodwin (which, for the avoidance of doubt, is not the Black Dyke Band Eb Bass player and Musical Director of Delph Band). The present-day Musical Director is Dennis Hadfield, previously of Dobcross Silver Band. He is also the Deputy Head of Oldham Music Service and has compered several concerts in Saddleworth and Oldham.

As part of Greenfield Brass Band’s transmogrification in to The Happiest Band of Saddleworth, they have also changed from green jackets to navy blue, gold and red. This was thanks to a little help from Meltham and Meltham Mills Band.

For the best part of two hours, The Happy Sound of Greenfield Band made for a well received concert. One that gave us a smile on our faces on a dreary November night.

Programme

First Half

  1. March: Punchinello (William Rimmer)
  2. Light Concert Music: Country Scene (Goff Richards)
  3. Popular Music: Clog Dance (John Marcangelo, arr. Bill Charleson)
  4. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Andy Ellis): Cry Me A River (Arthur Hamilton, arr. Alan Morrison)
  5. Film Music (from Local Hero): Going Home (Mark Knopfler, arr. Alan Fernie)
  6. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Sue Morris): Lady In Red (Chris de Burgh, arr. Darrol Barry)
  7. Popular Music: One Voice (Barry Manilow, arr. Ray Farr)

Second Half

  1. March: Barnard Castle (Goff Richards)
  2. TV Theme: Signature Tune from Clayhanger (Richard Hill, arr. James Hakin Howe)
  3. Tenor Horn Feature (performed by Emma, Sarah, Linda): Trio Con Brio (Gordon Langford)
  4. Popular Music: The Hustle (Van McCoy)
  5. Euphonium Duet (performed by Shona Jackson and Sam Gane): Perhaps Love (John Denver/Placido Domingo)
  6. Light Concert Music: The Lincolnshire Poacher (Derek Broadbent)
  7. Film Music: Theme from For Your Eyes Only (Bill Conti, arr. Darrol Barry)
  8. Popular Music: MacArthur Park (Jimmy Webb, arr. Alan Fernie)

Encore:

  • Film Music: Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (Ron Goodwin)

“He painted Salford’s smoky tops…”

The first piece of the night got us hungry for Whit Friday 2022 with a popular street march. That of William Rimmer’s Punchinello, familiar to everyone who sees the bands on Chew Valley Road. The name of the piece is inspired by a marionette whence British Punch and Judy shows came from in the 17th century. It also opens Brian and Michael’s Number One single, Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs. In case you are wondering, there are only 213 days to go till Whit Friday 2022 at this time of writing – or 215 days to go from Sunday’s concert.

This was followed by the first of our two Goff Richards pieces of the night with the first one being a contemplative light concert piece. A Country Scene could well be inspired by his Cornish upbringing. With subtle changes between notes and time signatures it sounds a lot less technical than you think. Nevertheless it makes for a real contrast compared with Chew Valley Road or High Street on a Whit Friday night.

After a brilliant start with two contrasting pieces, we revisited another old favourite in Clog Dance. Though familiar to anyone who has seen Brassed Off, it started out as a Top Twenty hit by Violinski (Number 17 in the UK Singles Chart in 1979). Shortly after release, it was Spedeworth Motorsports’ choice of rolling-start music for its Ministox oval racing meetings. The song itself is inspired by Brew’s cobblers’ shop in Whitehaven, John Marcangelo’s home town. As for Greenfield Brass Band’s performance, well heeled and polished.

The fourth piece was our first solo of the night, a song that has been performed by many artistes. Enter on Principal Cornet Andy Ellis with Cry Me A River. Written by Arthur Hamilton in 1953, it was first made famous by Julie London. If you are familiar with Michael Bublé’s version, his peaked at Number 34 in the UK single chart, despite being the best-known cover version. Mari Wilson faired better in 1983 peaking at Number 27. Topping the chart among Sunday’s audience was Andy’s rendition: a fantastic performance.

Not long after the release of Mari Wilson’s cover of Cry Me A River was a film starring Burt Lancaster. Directed by Bill Forsyth, it is set in a sleepy village in Scotland which – against all odds – thwarts an oil company’s efforts to spoil its landscape. The film in question is Local Hero. As for its most famous tune, that is Going Home, penned by Mark Knopfler. Of late, it has been the run-out tune at St. James’ Park during Newcastle United’s home games. Greenfield Band’s rendition was another good on.

The last two pieces of the first half both appeared in different episodes of Only Fools and Horses. The first one was used in Rodney Trotter’s wedding with Cassandra and a smash hit single throughout the summer of 1986. On euphonium, Sue Morris played Chris de Burgh’s Lady In Red. To this day, it is a popular slow dancing tune at weddings. On the other hand, it was voted as The UK’s Fourth Worst Number One Single on a Channel Four programme in 2001 with 50,000 voters. Sue’s performance on flugelhorn was a most classy one. Well done.

The final piece of this half is one of Barry Manilow’s most famous songs. Released in 1979, One Voice is the title track of the album that peaked at Number 17 in the UK Album Charts. As a single release, it fared better as a cover version by William Tarmey – 14 years after the album’s release. As well as being sung by the late William Piddington (Tarmey to you – or Jack Duckworth off Corrie), it was ‘sung’ by Del Trotter in the 1993 Only Fools and Horses Christmas special Fatal Extraction.

Thankfully, unlike Sir David Jason’s most famous character, Greenfield Band’s performance of One Voice was another cracker, taking us to the interval in good style. Without the slightest sense of inebriation.

“We didn’t see that one coming…”

Had it not been for recent events, Goff Richards’ Barnard Castle would be seen as a jolly concert march. Thanks to Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s one-time advisor Dominic Cummings, the town is now associated with his drive to Specsavers during the first COVID lockdown. As for the march (and in keeping politics out of a brass band concert review), it is inspired by George Allan’s and T.J Powell’s works. A fantastic, rousing start to the second half.

From picturesque market towns with castles we moved to dour industrial towns with kilns – like Burslem and Tunstall – among the five towns that inspired Arnold Bennett’s works. In 1976, ATV made a 26-part series called Clayhanger – an adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s work on the Clayhanger family who had a printing business. It is set in late-19th Century Burslem with one lad having to give up school at seven for work. Another wanted to be an architect. For today’s viewers, the series is largely forgotten (though available on DVD via Network DVD). For Mr Hadfield, the theme music had a great impression on him, so he added to Greenfield Band’s running order. A fantastic move, and a real hidden gem of a tune that deserves more recognition. As for Greenfield Band’s performance, superb.

From the summer of 1976, we moved to the summer of 1990 for our tenor horn trio. This time with Gordon Langford’s Trio Con Brio – which has a medley of Italian tunes. These include O Sole Mio and Nessum Dorma (the two taking us back to the legendary Three Tenors concerts). O Sole Mio formed the basis of Elvis Presley’s It’s Now or Never and Walls’ Cornetto advert tune Just One Cornetto (also lovingly covered by Pookiesnackenburger) whereas Nessum Dorma conjures up memories of World Cup Italia – as BBC One’s theme of choice. A lovely addition to the programme and a smashing performance.

Our sojourn into 1990 was short-lived. In our next piece we moved to 1975, another year that had a good summer before being eclipsed by the summer of 1976. Back in ’75, Van McCoy’s The Hustle was the first of four UK Top 40 hits, peaking at Number Three. It has been used as a street march as well as a concert march; on previous Whit Fridays, The Hustle has been heard on Chew Valley Road, High Street and countless other places in Tameside and Saddleworth. We loved Greenfield Band’s version, neatly taking us to the raffle.

This was followed by our one and only duet of the night, originally arranged for the Childs Brothers. After a three-year gap, Shona Jackson and Sam Gane picked up their euphoniums and played Perhaps Love. This was a chart hit single for John Denver and Placido Domingo. As neither John and Placido were present, Shona Jackson and Sam Gane were more than a match for the duo. Well played.

Once again we returned to the 1970s with a well-remembered B-side. The B-side of Brighouse and Rastrick Band’s most famous single, The Floral Dance. If you guessed The Lincolnshire Poacher, give yourself a gold star. Arranged by the legendary Derek Broadbent, it is based on a folk song that is seen as the unofficial anthem of the County of Lincolnshire. Shortwave radio geeks would associate that tune with a numbers station that played the tune every so often. Another enjoyable trip down memory lane for some listeners and a lovely slice of brass banding cheese. (Whilst we are on that subject, Stalybridge Old Band opened the town’s TESCO store in February 2001 to that piece).

Twenty years before Stalybridge TESCO opened, there’s a chance you might have seen a Roger Moore James Bond film in the town’s Palace Cinema. The Bond film for 1981 was For Your Eyes Only, and its title theme was sung by Sheena Easton. Written by Bill Conti, it was lovingly transcribed for brass bands by the late Darrol Barry. It is a theme that shows off the horns to good effect. Greenfield Band’s rendition proved just that.

To finish off the concert, we had everybody’s favourite misplaced cake song: Jimmy Webb’s MacArthur Park. For over half a century, it has been a popular piece at brass band concerts and has appeared on several LPs, cassettes, CDs and downloadable formats. For many, the best known version was sung by Richard Harris, and a favourite among DJs who fancied a call of nature or the like. In 1978 – ten years after its initial release in 1968 – Donna Summer’s version added a neat disco beat with extended versions and radio-friendly versions. Inspired by Grimethorpe’s performance of the piece (see a gazillion Grimethorpe Colliery Band CDs/cassettes/LPs for further reference), Greenfield Band ended the night on a high.

To cement their reputation as The Happiest Band In Saddleworth, they signed off with a Ron Goodwin classic. Another film piece of a singalong and toe-tapping quality in Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. Starring Terry Thomas, Sarah Miles and Stuart Whitman, their aim is to go from London to Paris in a slight Heath Robinson kind of way with biplanes. The film is set in 1910 and the theme music reflects the brio of its pilots. Fantastic work.

If you’re looking for a concert that would cheer you up after a hard day, a Greenfield Band concert fits that bill. None of the pieces were too technical nor taxing for the listener. For anybody wishing to get into brass bands, a very good first concert before introducing them to concerts with more taxing programmes. Musical Director Dennis Hadfield was most informative with a dry sense of humour.

All in all, two hours well spent.

Next time at Boarshurst…

This Sunday sees Boarshurst Silver Band’s Remembrance Sunday concert, a chance to remember the fallen. It will also be Jamie Prophet’s first concert as Musical Director for Boarshurst Silver Band, who has taken over from James Garlick this summer. As usual, doors open from 6.30 pm with the band on stage for 7.30 pm. Please arrive early to be sure of a seat.

Bus:

  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham.

Alight at the former Greenfield Conservative Club. Please note that Stagecoach Manchester operates the 350 route after 7pm. For most of the time, the route is operated by First Greater Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 09 November 2021.

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