Yorkshire Area Championships - Post Match Analysis
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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