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ARTICLES

 

Yorkshire Area Championships - Post Match Analysis

Championship Section:

Results:

1. Black Dyke (N. Childs): 196
2. Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal) (J. Gourlay): 195
3. Brighouse and Rastrick (A. Withington): 193
4. Yorkshire Building Society (D. King): 191
5. Hepworth (M. Bentham): 190
6. Sellers International (P. McCann): 189
7. Rothwell Temperance (D. Roberts): 188
8. DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell (D. Evans): 187
9. Carlton Main Frickley (J. Hinkley): 185
10. Pennine Brass (I. Porthouse): 184
11. Ntl Skelmanthorpe (K. Wadsworth): 182
12. Drighlington (C. Hardy): 181
13. Yorkshire Cooperatives (J. Roberts). 180
14. ASDA Stocksbridge (D. Renshaw): 179
15. Marsden Silver (A. Widdop): 178


We thought it was going to be a great weekend of banding in Bradford, and jiminy we weren't bleeding wrong!

From the first note in the Third Section on the Saturday to the last note in the Championship Section late Sunday night, it was full of drama, controversy and a fair amount of high quality playing. St. George's Hall really was the place to be at.

The flagship Regional gave us a contest to remember and James Scott was left with a very difficult decision, but one that he told 4BR was a very pleasant dilemma.

"There were four very fine performances of which two very musically outstanding, and I had to really take my time in reviewing them at the end to ensure I was satisfied that the decision was right." That was the measure of the contest, which exploded to life when Black Dyke took the stage as band number 6, to be followed by Grimethorpe at 7, Brighouse at 8 and YBS at 9. The meat of a very satisfying sandwich was crammed into those four performances that all in their own ways were as good as you expect to hear anywhere - it proved to be the seminal hour of the whole weekend.

The contest itself got off to a good start with Sellers International under Philip McCann showing that they have come a long way in a short space of time since he returned to retake the baton. It was a solid and secure performance that lacked just a bit of sparkle and had a few too many individual errors, but in Mark Bousie on euph they had a player of real quality with a lovely rounded sound to hold the bottom end of the band. It showed they are now moving back to the standard of performances they previously enjoyed under Mr McCann's direction and sixth place was well deserved. From last, last year to 6th place this year is an indication of their improvement.

Ntl Skelmanthorpe and Kevin Wadsworth were solid enough, but were hampered a little by only having two percussionists and sounded perhaps the "lightest" band of the contest. Again there was some fine individual playing, especially on the sop and baritone and the direction was sensible, but against what had gone before and what was to come later, it was a slightly "anonymous" performance in musical terms and 11th place was about right for us.

ASDA Stocksbridge were certainly determined to "sound" like a top class band, but for much of the time a well directed performance was spoilt by them trying to hard to blow like one. They also had a bass player with a tremendous David Seaman style ponytail, which certainly was Champions League standard, let alone Yorkshire Area, but it didn't really help. Derek Renshaw produced a well shaped reading of the score, but time and time again the dynamic effects were too OTT and the good work from the players was lost amid the overblowing. We think Mr Scott would have thought so as well and they came 14th - a lesson indeed.

Carlton Main took the stage in their smart black DJ's and John Hinckley (resplendent in what looked like an old purple Grimey shirt!) led them through a very workmanlike performance that had much to merit and commend it. It wasn't overblown and had some excellent individual moments, including a fine bit of repiano playing from the Christine Withington on 3rd man down on the very taxing libero solo and the solo baritone. It was a performance that could have had a better reward if they played a little later in the day and 9th place was couple of places too low at least for us.

Yorkshire Cooperatives (complete with more dusters than can be found in a cleaning ladies convention) also had their moments and also had the best "echo" cornet motif of the day from Tabby Hall on Principal Cornet, who was very good throughout. It was the only one that really did sound "distant" all day. Conductor John Roberts was flamboyant enough to actually be distracting in places though and at times the music suffered from the urge to conduct every note, especially in the operatic duet. Lots of decent stuff though and plenty to commend, but it didn't "flow" and many of the sections didn't connect as they should have. Not enough to make a mark, which was a pity for the fine Ms Hall and the flugel player who we think was an old welsh boy called Lyn that used to play sop for "Imps" and shone on the bigger instrument. 13th was about right.

Black Dyke was the reigning champion of both Yorkshire and Great Britain and from the outset showed everyone why - despite wearing the world's worst set of braces! Dyke's beautiful rounded bass sound was led by veteran Phil Goodwin who was on top form - as were all soloists. Nick Childs directed a mature reading of the score that was sublime in places and simply awesome in others.

The musical picture "unfolded", just as James Scott said he wanted and each of the individual sections linked with each other. The sound of the band was superb and they made sure that all their dynamics were observed and more importantly were relevant. When the final fff came at 37 it was superb, whilst the differences in the lower dynamics was equally pronounced. Nothing overblown (the back row in particular were admirably restrained) and perhaps they were the highlight of the whole day in the short "hymn tune" section - which actually sounded, as it should and not as a connecting conduit as many played it. There was very little to even quibble with throughout (even though Roger Webster played the rep libero solo) and at the end you just knew it was the performance to beat.

Grimethorpe up next complete with brand new bass end and they took up the challenge of their rivals brilliantly from the start. James Gourlay (complete with a very strange looking bow tie) was at his elegiac best and Richard Marshall was the top solo cornet of the day. There was so much musical shape to the playing and the reading had little gems of detail that even Dyke couldn't find. Excellent soloists and technically the best (and cleanest) show of the day, it only lacked a touch of "reflective calm" in the quieter sections that Dyke brought to the music. Still it was a supreme effort, and it was different enough in style and musical shape to divide the audience opinion into either loving it or thinking it a bit too "different" to take the top spot. A very, very close second place.

Brighouse were as only Brighouse can be. It reminded us of Lolo Ferrari (those of you who watch Eurotrash will know who we mean), for Brighouse were huge - and we mean Lolo huge. This was 56 double G in your face stuff and just as some blokes really loved the late mammoth mammarian beauty, it is a specialist genre. Great shape and form and plenty to rub your hands on, but it was so OTT in places that the brilliant work of the surgeon Mr Withington was lost by the sheer size of what was on show. If they had done the Amazonian bit and cut things by half then we think they would have been right there at the death. Instead we had a great time just wondering how they managed to stay on their feet. Brilliantly different and 3rd spot.

Yorkshire Building Society took to the stage in their black waistcoats and oh so green shirts and proceeded to start in a manner that had everyone on the edge of the chairs. A tremendous rounded and balanced sound and the most detailed of readings by David King set them up at halfway to what looked like a winning performance. However, the band has had many changes of late and Mr King has not had time to hone and shine his diamonds thus leaving a few jagged edges that detracted from their performance. These odd slips accumulated enough to mean that they were behind the other three and 4th place was a fair result. Give it a few months though and this could be the finished article.

Drighlington had to contend with a hall that emptied quicker than Elton John's bank account in a florists, but Colin Hardy brought good quality direction to proceedings and his band gave a very decent showing. They started with a few nerves but recovered throughout while some of the individual playing was on a par with what had gone on before, especially on sop, bari and flugel. Towards the end the stamina started to go and the sound became hard and strident. A brave showing though and much to commend it. 12th was about right.

The bar must have been doing a roaring trade at this time as we played spot the crowd when Marsden played. Alan Widdop knew that his band had limitations and intelligently made sure that tempo and style played to the bands strengths. It had its moments, but there were too many individual errors for them to come higher and at times they struggled against the more complex technical challenges the music had to offer. Perhaps this was too stern a test for them at present, but it will certainly give them the experience they will need if they are to survive at this level.

DUT Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell came to the contest with plenty of new faces in the ranks. MD David Evans, gave a fine reading and there was good playing from the band (including a very fine flugel cadenza). His direction had much to admire with a languid, liquid ease and very accurate beat patterns. For the most part the band responded, but you got the feeling that they have not yet 'bedded in' and at times the ensemble work was ragged and not balanced. They seem to have the firm foundations of a fine band in the making, though this time it was a performance of individuals rather than the band as a whole. 8th place was a fair result.

Pennine Brass have been winning plaudits for the past few years for the standard of their performances on the contest stageand they certainly didn't sound out of their depth here. Ian Porthouse gave the music time to unfold and his young band (especially the lad on solo cornet) played with style and admirable security. The troms tended to overbow towards the end and the balance went awry in places, but there was much to commend throughout. We wonder if James Scott noticed that the 'very fine' flugel cadenza was actually played by the good looking lass on 'third man down' with the help of the 4th man with a cushion. It was too obvious and detracted from a very secure and solid first outing in the top flight. 10th but could have been a bit higher.

Rothwell Temperance and David Roberts gave a fine showing off the number 14 spot. It started exceptionally well, especially as the band had a long wait for the timps to be retuned. As things panned out, there were blips and blobs, but these didn't really detract until the last quarter of the piece when the band became tired and started to lose much of its former cohesion and balance. Brave solo lines throughout held the band in good stead (with top rate baritone and very good sop) and David Roberts brought a sensible well controlled performance out of his band. 7th place was good and may have been higher on another day. A band with a promising 2002 ahead we think, although they must get rid of the appalling burgundy shirts. Yuck!

And so to the last band. Hepworth have been on a bit of a roll of late and on this performance we could certainly hear why. Our dark horse choice played with vigour and zest and plenty of musical style and 5th place was well deserved indeed. Mark Bentham (another MD with an unfortunate choice of shirt - why Mark?) directed with admirable sense and his band responded brilliantly. Great solo lines - the baritone was the best of the day, and a well rounded ensemble sound marked them out from just about everyone else except the top four. They handled the technical stuff with aplomb. This showed they had done plenty of hours work in the bandroom and at home. Plenty of stamina to the bitter end and a fine debut. 5th place and the only band to still wear trousers with stripes on - Great stuff!

With more announcements and thanks than could be imagined - only the tea lady wasn't thanked by name - there was welcome recognition for Hayden Griffiths MBE of Armthorpe Elmfield Band for his 70 years service to the movement. He has missed just one band rehearsal since 1964. More of these people we need.

The composer himself said a few words (he had flown in from Dublin - we didn't know Bradford had an international airport) before James Scott spoke about the music and the performances. As always, he made sense and told the audience that he wanted hear the music "unfold" into its constituent parts and for the musical picture of Michael Ball to be realised. Two performances were outstanding he said. Four bands were a class above the rest. He also mentioned that nearly every band had offered something of note.

His decision he told us was very difficult, but he felt that the performance of Black Dyke had just what he was looking for and even though Grimethorpe were very, very close they just didn't do enough to displace Dyke from the top of his list. He was also very complimentary of Brighouse and the way in which their conductor (Allan Withington) had shaped the music, whilst YBS had many outstanding moments, yet suffered in comparison to those above them in terms of individual slips.

So the results came out (finally) and Black Dyke retained the title. That win set them up for their National title and their first "Major" for nearly seven years - on this form you have the feeling that it may be just over seven months before they add further to their tally.


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