It was raining so persistently in Oldham that the RNLI were sending out the lifeboats to help stranded motorists on the M62; Local farmers were teaming up their animals in pairs just in case an Ark was needed.
And still the big old barn of the town's Queen Elizabeth Hall was packed with over 850 people for the visit of Mnozil Brass.
You sensed nobody would have missed them perform even if they had to swim to get there.
For the dedicated fans (and they came from as far away as Jersey for the night) there was a real sense of expectancy, as the ensemble were to showcase a brand new set, intriguingly entitled, ‘Blofeld’.
As for the first time listener, any preconceptions about brass inspired entertainment were gloriously drop kicked into touch.
Diggle Band provided the aperitif under the baton of James Shepherd with a well played reminder of just what traditional brass band concert programming is all about with a selection of works from their new CD.
It did its job: enabling the audience to shake the last droplets of rain from coats and hair, whilst the popular host Brian Taylor provided an entertaining vignette of his own before the main act took to the stage.
The next two hours flew by in breathtaking fashion.
Despite the title, this wasn’t a comic operetta on the theme of all things ‘Bond’ – even though a major chunk of the first half material (both visual and musical) paid brilliant homage to the films, with Leonhard Paul, the comic book baddie: a cross between Max Wall and Emo Philips with a laugh inspired by Vincent Price as the mad Dr Phibes.
Blofeld was more a masterclass series of amazingly inventive surrealist sketches and riffs, bone dry wit and slapstick mayhem, mesmerising interludes of thoughtfulness and beauty:
It was Monty Python meets the Marx Brothers, underpinned by world class playing that left you open mouthed in stunned admiration.
Each member of the group played their brilliantly defined personas to perfection; the suave Roman Rindberger and impish Thomas Gansch, the indefatigable cool dude Wilfred Brandstotter, urbane Zoltan Kiss and downright weird Leonhard Paul.
Roman Rindberger, bumbled like a musical version of Estragon in ‘Waiting for Godot’, whilst Gerhard Fussl was Harpo Marx in all but name.
None of it would work however if it wasn’t backed by sublime musicianship – and this was as sublime as it can get.
The playing highlights came as thick and fast as the sight gags – with Zoltan Kiss and Wilfred Brandstotter in particular given ample opportunity to showcase the full gamut of their extraordinary talents.
The laughs made your belly ache, but it was the playing that left the indelible impression on the mind – especially the wonderful Khachaturian ‘Masquerade’ and ‘Scene D’Amour' from the film ‘Vertigo’.
In between there was everything from Superman to Marilyn Monroe in ‘Some Like it Hot’, via a trip to the Olympics, ‘Psycho’ and Sousa – delivered with the polished comedic aplomb of a Frankie Howerd one liner.
The wonderfully inventive original compositions and arrangements by Thomas Gansch, Leonhard Paul and Gerhard Fussl encompassed pastiche to homage, self deprecating wit to spell binding beauty.
Nobody does it better
By the close, the hall rose on mass to demand the encores – topped by the James Bond classic theme tune ‘Nobody does it Better’.
You could forgive the lads their enjoyable bit of boastfulness: Nobody does things better than Mnozil Brass.
Too bleeding right they don’t.