2007 North West Regional Championship - Second Section retrospective


It may not have been the best of the North West here in the Second Section, but Wardle and Blackpool won't mind as they booked their places at Harrogate.

Colin Hardy adjudicated a second section of twelve bands in Blackpool and if truth be told it wasn't the best of the North West on Sunday. Normally so determined and strong, the section left one a little deflated but noted that it will be Wardle and Blackpool that go forward to Harrogate.

A rose between... Wardle's representataive takes hold of the trophy
Picture: J. Stirzaker

Whether it was the piece, Helen Perkin's ‘Carnival', the acoustic in the hall or even the style of approach, something didn't work for the bands. On stage the music rattled around the platform and scenery like a Tommy Gun not helping the basses or percussion in any way.

Colin Hardy meanwhile gave a clear and authoritative summing up. "Disappointing, but not bad performances, aggressive playing and a dynamic approach that was too forceful for the work", were his main observations and you couldn't disagree with him one bit. Colin also noted with pleasure however that the percussion, in the main, "did keep a lid on it" given the gentle nature of the work and he gave praise to the soprano players on the day too.

wardleWardle & District Anderson Brass led by Sean Conway took the spoils with a performance that had an easy style that was more controlled than many others. A smooth ‘Cavalcade', dynamically neat ‘Pavane' and steady ‘Burlesque' were enough to convince the adjudicator and claim them the first prize and the trip to Harrogate. They sounded a very compact and well rehearsed outfit and they will be a band to watch out for come the finals.

The runners-up spot and the other Harrogate contender will be pre-contest favourites Blackpool Brass.

BlackpoolA clean ‘Cavalcade,' simple and direct ‘Pavane' and dancing ‘Burlesque' were enough for the adjudicator to give them the nod as well and there was much to commend about the two qualification performances that stood out from the rest by the virtue of good intelligent direction from the conductors and some excellent solo and ensemble work that was balanced and rounded in sound.

Stuart Barton coached Trinity Girls into 3rd place with a warm toned delivery with some nice shapes whilst fourth place went to Bollington. Both these bands also had their moments of quality throughout the piece, but they lacked the real consistency of the top two and just fell away in places with some ragged ensemble work and too many unforced errors in the solo lines. This result may see them, together with Blackpool, move up to the First Section once the points are aggregated.

Old Hall Brass meanwhile made a bright ‘Cavalcade' work to their advantage although the other two sections were not of the same quality, whilst Manx Concert Brass finished in the mid-table from number one in the draw after producing a neatly structured account that just had those too many unforced errors within it to really feature any higher.

A confident opening from United Co-operative 2000 did sound aggressive, as Colin Hardy described, and that carried on throughout the piece spoiling their chances of coming any higher than they did, whilst that was a comment that could equally be applied to that of the performances of Delph, Rainford and Stalybridge Old too.

Each had their moments when things came together well, but also had far too many moments when scrappy ensemble work and a lack of concentration took the gloss off what could have been much better performances.

A little surprising though was the 11th place awarded to Greenalls who did deliver a lovely pulse to the ‘Burlesque' when they literally swayed to the rhythm and who also produced two neat and effective opening movements too. It was hard to find fault although the overall quality of the band sound didn't have the depth of the very top bands – it possibly deserved a top six place though. John Ludden approached the work with quite an orchestral ear and perhaps they were the band we felt they could have perhaps finished higher in the frame.

Boarshurst Silver collected an unusual result for them, in taking the final spot. A little lumpy in the ‘Pavane' they certainly felt more at ease here in the louder dynamics in the two outer sections, but that wasn't enough to stop them coming where they did. A bit of a harsh lesson perhaps but it goes to show that at this level there is still a need to be able to make subtle changes in style and tempi to register in the box – this one was a bit one paced, if well played. These two final placings may see Greenalls and Boarshurst drop into the Third Section in 2008 when the points are compiled.

One would have to conclude that the top two in the North West didn't quite play to the very best of their form but still came away as delighted qualifiers for the Harrogate. This wasn't a fantastic advert for North West banding at this level, especially given the standard here over the past few years, but there was still quality on show in places to suggest that the two qualifiers should be confident of doing well come September.

John James


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