Vibrant programme makes for cheerful start to new season at Mecca of Brass Banding
In a time where every single colour seems to fade to Farrow and Ball grey, Pride Brass brought a welcome splash of colour to Boarshurst Band Club for two entertaining hours. They opened the new season with an enjoyable concert with a selection of brass banding classics and some poppier numbers.
For anybody new to brass banding, Pride Brass is a scratch band of LGBTQ+ players and LGBTQ+ ally players. Many of which are in First Section and Championship Section bands across the UK. As with their first ever public performance as Pride Brass, their Musical Director is Matt Ryan. He has a rich pedigree, making a success of Flixton Band.
Many of the players came from bands in the North West of England and Yorkshire. Some travelled much further, with one of its horn players coming from Crystal Palace Brass Band. At the other end of the scale is Boarshurst Silver Band’s Bill Reynolds – 220 yards instead of 220 miles away.
As well as raising awareness of LGBTQ+ rights, it was a clear reminder that they are also our rights too. The right not to be marginalised on grounds of wealth, race, colour, religion, background or disability as well as sexuality. As the band’s earnings go to LGBTQ+ charities, a cool £216 was raised for Stonewall.
All in all, Pride Brass gave us a concert that was truly inclusive. The programme was accessible for people new to brass bands and well thought out. It was also good for dancers, especially their choice of encore piece. Wherever they perform, you will be in for a treat.
- Light Concert Music: Gøta (Peter Karlsson, arr. Tina Kvamme);
- March: Anchors Aweigh (Chas Zimmerman, arr. H.C. Newton);
- Trombone Solo (performed by Kyle Blake): Second Star To The Right (Sammy Cahn/Sammy Fain, arr. Christopher Bond);
- Light Concert Music: Lord of the Dance (Roman Hardiman, arr. Gavin Somerset);
- Hymn: Gresford (Robert Saint, arr. Sandy Smith);
- Popular Music: Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond, arr. David Beale);
- Popular Music: MacArthur Park (Jimmy Webb, arr. Alan Catherall).
- Popular Music: Clog Dance (John Marcangelo, arr. Bill Charleson);
- Popular Music: Hey Jude (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Derek Broadbent);
- Film Music (from New York, New York): Theme from New York, New York (John Kander/Fred Ebb, arr. Thomas Wyss);
- Light Concert Music: Pokarekare Ana (Traditional, arr. Peter Hargreaves);
- Film Music (from Finding Nemo): Beyond The Sea (Jack Lawrence/Charles Trenet, arr. Philip Harper);
- Film Music (from West Side Story): Somewhere (Leonard Bernstein, arr. Eric Crees).
- Popular Music: YMCA (Jacques Morali/Victor Willis/Henri Belolo, arr. Frank Bernaerts).
Where did I put that recipe?
We opened with what was the eleventh piece at Besses Boys’ concert just under two months ago (where did the time go?). That of Gøta, Peder Karlsson’s song about three Norwegian villages on the island of Eysturoy on the Faroe Islands. It is also the abbreviated form of Norðragøta. In 2005 it was sung by The Real Group, a Swedish a cappella group. Just to show off the band’s superb playing abilities, they didn’t need the services of Musical Director Matt Ryan to count them in. A real doddle for Pride Brass, and a joyous opening piece as well.
Next up was Pride Brass’ march of choice with Anchors Aweigh. It is the march song of US Naval Academy and the unofficial march song of the US Navy. It was written by Charles Zimmerman in 1906. His other works include the musical score of the stage version of The Wizard of Oz (1902). Brilliant stuff!
Our third piece of the night was our one and only soloist. Enter Kyle Blake on Solo Trombone, this time with Second Star To The Right. It is one of the best known songs from Walt Disney’s adaptation of Peter Pan. The ‘second star to the right’ refers to the location of Neverland in J.M Barrie’s novel. As for Kyle’s performance, fantastic work.
The fourth piece of the night could either be classed as Light Concert Music or a Hymn. Gavin Somerset’s arrangement of Ronan Hardiman’s Lord of the Dance is firmly in the former with its Riverdance type schtick. In Peter Graham’s Cry of the Celts, it forms part of its Victory movement. Hardiman’s song itself is ultimately an arrangement of Sydney Carter’s hymn, which is set to the music of an 1848 Shaker song called Simple Gifts. Another fine performance, though a bit more dance floor action would have made it even better.
If you know your LGBTQ+ history, you may be familiar with Mark Ashton. The gay rights activist was a leading light in supporting the mineworkers in the 1984 – 85 Miners’ Strike and helped to form Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners. His story is covered in the 2014 film Pride, which inspired the fifth piece of the night, Gresford.
Gresford is known as The Miners’ Hymn. Written by Robert Saint, it was written in memory of the Gresford colliery disaster near Wrexham (22 September 1934) which killed 266 mineworkers. Of similar poignance, this year is the 35th anniversary of Mark Ashton’s death (he is remembered in The Communards’ 1987 song For A Friend). A fantastic, moving performance.
Our penultimate piece of the first half has gained greater popularity thanks to football. If you guessed Sweet Caroline, there’s a gold star coming your way. The song was written in 1969 by Neil Diamond, and his muse was John F. Kennedy’s daughter (aged eleven at the time). For some time, it has been a popular street march and encore piece. With the Men’s Euro 2020 and the Women’s Euro 2022 tournaments, a rallying cry for the England international team. Brilliant stuff, even with one or two chanting “so good” in the audience.
The final piece of the first half was a Top Thirty hit for Richard Harris and Donna Summer. That of Jimmy Webb’s classic MacArthur Park. The song, at a then airplay-unfriendly six minutes long, was a favourite among DJs who wanted to pop out for a cigarette, call of nature, or something else of that persuasion. Apart from that, the only song about missing cakes to have made the Top Ten. A brilliant finale that took us to the internal and The World Famous Boarshurst Raffle.
A well shod second half
With the new season at Boarshurst, it is always a joy to see familiar faces and newcomers alike. You could also say the same about concert pieces – especially a dependable number like Clog Dance. Thanks largely to Brassed Off, it is better known by some listeners as an original piece. It is actually a transcription of a 1979 single by Violinski, written about Brew’s cobbler shop in Whitehaven. Pride Brass made light work of this number, a polished performance without a doubt. As for Violinski, the group took part of its name from Mik Kaminski, who plied his trade as violinist in Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra.
We moved on from Whitehaven to Wavertree, which could only mean one thing: a Beatles tune. That of Hey Jude, a song which evolved from Hey Jules, a ballad sung to Julian Lennon after John Lennon’s split with his first wife Cynthia. For audio geeks, Hey Jude was the first song to be recorded on their Apple label and on 8-track recording equipment at Trident Studios, London. Instead of eight tracks, our horn section gave us a very good performance.
Next up was a song that was first performed by Liza Minelli, then made even more famous by Frank Sinatra in the 1980s. That of the Theme from New York, New York, composed by John Kander and Fred Ebb for the 1977 Martin Scorsese film. Nine years on, after previous reissues, Frank Sinatra’s cover version took the world by storm. It peaked at Number Four in the UK Official Charts on the 15th March 1986 (kept off the top spot by Sigue Sigue Sputnik, The Bangles and Diana Ross). As for Pride Brass’ performance, we loved it.
From a classic karaoke standard, our next piece was a Maori love song. Entitled Pokarekare Ana, it was presumably written in 1914 (the start of the First World War). It has been performed by Hayley Westerna. In April 2013, it was sung by members and spectators at a New Zealand parliament session to celebrate the legalisation of same-sex marriage. It was arranged by Peter Hargreaves (of Williams Fairey Band and Glossop Old Band fame) who did a wonderful job of this piece. All the more enhanced by Pride Brass’ pristine performance.
From New Zealand, we move to France. All of which thanks to a jazz standard by Charles Trenet. Known as Le Mer in French, Beyond The Sea has gained a new lease of life thanks to Robbie Williams and an adorable animated clownfish. The first popular cover version was sung by Bobby Darin. Robbie Williams’ cover featured on his 2001 LP Swing When You’re Winning and heard in the end credits of Finding Nemo. Brilliant stuff.
To finish the concert, we moved to New York City. This time with a piece from West Side Story, everyone’s favourite modern-day twist on Romeo and Juliet. From the musical, we closed with Somewhere. Sung by Tony and Maria, it appears in a melancholy part of the production where Tony dies in the hands of Maria. Furthermore, West Side Story has a place in the hearts of our fellow comrades in the LGBTQ+ community due to its creators. Another great night and a fitting finale.
Or so we thought. There was one more song left in the can, and we stayed in New York City for this number.
The encore piece was a disco classic, courtesy of Messrs Jones, Hughes, Rose, Willis, Hodo and Briley. In other words, The Village People. They started out as a temporary group, then Victor Willis put out an ad in a theatre trade paper which read “Macho Types Wanted: Must Dance And Have A Moustache”. For many people, only one song springs to mind: YMCA.In early 1979, it was their one and only UK Number One single. We lapped it up, marking the end of another great concert.
* * *
Pride Brass are well worth seeking out wherever they play. If you like your brass band music to be loud, proud, diverse, inclusive and entertaining, they are well worth seeing. You can follow them on their Facebook page or their Twitter feed.
Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…
Our next concert is on the 11th September when our next band will be Lindley Band. That’ll be at 7.30 pm, doors open at 6.30 pm. Please arrive early to be sure of a good seat.
- 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham (First Greater Manchester/Stagecoach Manchester).
Please alight outside the former Greenfield Conservative Club which is just before (to Oldham) or after (to Ashton) the new zebra crossing. All post-6pm journeys of the 350 route are operated by Stagecoach Manchester.
If you’re making a single journey on the 350, the maximum fare is now £2.00 (£1.00 for children). Therefore, a single journey from Oldham to Greenfield – or Ashton-under-Lyne to Greenfield – is half the price of (or better still, about 40% of) the same fare you would have paid last week.
S.V., 05 September 2022.