Cory’s welcome return to the North East proved to be a great success thanks to their renowned ability to produce highly polished brass band entertainment seemingly without breaking sweat.
That was certainly the case here, especially as it came less than 24 hours after taking part in an equally entertaining event with the Shepherd Group Band in York.
Setting the tone
Philip Harper set the tone with a bubbling ‘Valero’ to open, before they delivered the familiar elements of their 2017 concert repertoire with a superb sense of freshness and purpose.
The rather bizarre card-playing intrigue of ‘Pique Dame’ was a masterclass in controlled dynamic and pace, whilst ‘Gota’ was full of Nordic musing and atmosphere. The only things missing from a joyous ‘Climb Every Mountain’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ were guest appearances by Julie Andrews and the Harlem Globetrotters.
The first half soloists Steve Stewart (with a perfectly pitched ‘Over the Horizon’ by Christopher Bond) and Tom Hutchinson with the classic cornet solo ‘The Paragon’ were on outstanding form - both playing with a touch of classy reserve, whilst a special mention must be made of the MD who was a thoroughly engaging presence in front of the band throughout.
The second half was given over to the award-winning storytelling set, ‘The Remarkable Life of Roald Dahl’, which was colourful, varied and absorbing; drawing a linear musical line through the somewhat surprisingly complex and at times troubled life of the celebrated author.
The solo playing of Glyn and Helen Williams was a delight, but it was the clever way in which the upbeat qualities of the ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ finale never seemed out of place with the darker elements of war and childhood loss that left the indelible mark.
Wagner’s ‘Procession to the Minster’, with Steve Stewart floating above the band in thrilling fashion almost rounded things off, before a brace of encores in the form of the march ‘The Champions’ and Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’ gave the packed and thoroughly delighted audience, extra value for their ticket price.