LIVE REVIEW: Fairey Brass Band @ Durham Brass Festival (17.7.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I spent a good part of the morning wandering around Durham’s cobbled streets soaking up the rays along with some excellent al fresco brass troupes.  I wasn’t able to attend either Friday or Saturday, but having recently seen the Hot8 Brass Band I know for a fact that I’ll have missed a doozy.  Instead, I was to attend an afternoon concert by the Fairey Brass Band of Stockport.

The billing seemed to indicate that they would be playing a selection of acid house tunes transposed for brass, which I found a fascinating proposition.  I’ve heard a few reimaginings of The Prodigy and The Specials from various bands, so the prospect of something as, let’s say extreme, as acid house was something I had to see to believe.  As I made my way into the auditorium I chuckled to myself, it appeared that the entire audience was made up of septuagenarian pluses.  I’m not a big fan of acid house, or any acid for that matter, but I suspected that the blue rinse brigade would be even less enamoured.  I needn’t have concerned myself, there wasn’t a whiff of acid in the room beyond lemon sherbets.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t disappointed, the concert was fantastic, it was just rather more traditional than I had expected.

The band was made up of an array of instruments; in front of the occasionally used drum kit, percussion and vibes sat 7 cornet players, 4 horns including a flugel, a brace of euphoniums and baritones, 3 trombones, 4 basses (brass, not guitar).  As you can imagine, when at full force this line-up was quite formidable.  It was no surprise that as a championship winning brass band they were spot on in every aspect of their playing, some of the technical difficulty they were successfully attempting was seriously impressive.  Playing through a number of film soundtracks, including a Disney medley, and classic brass band pieces, including a Dvorak number, they had the elderly crowd enraptured.  There were 6 soloists featured, including a cornet, a baritone, a euphonium duet and, for me most impressively, a trombone.  The piece, Rhapsody for Trombone, allowed the soloist Becky Lundberg to demonstrate a full gambit of incredibly intricate and downright difficult phrases which she smacked out of the park with seeming ease, and I say that as a trombonista myself.  Having said that, all of the soloists were magnificent and were a joy to watch.

I left feeling slightly cheated that the acid brass element hadn’t been demonstrated, especially given the uniqueness it would have brought, but the warm ‘everything is going to be okay’ feeling that a well-drilled brass band brings always leaves me smiling.

The Durham Brass Festival is growing and improving year by year, and with such a varied programme it is most definitely a success.  I am looking forward to next year with anticipation.

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