2010 Brass in Concert Championship - The Sage awaits the entertainers


The X Factor meets Britain's got Talent - all that Brass in Concert is missing is the lovely Cheryl Cole...

 The Sage
The Golden arch beckons the the entertainers...
Picture: Ian Clowes

The end of year entertainment bunfight that is Brass in Concert takes place this Sunday in The Sage, Gateshead, at the wonderful anthropomorphic concert hall on the banks of the River Tyne.

The brass band contesting version of ‘X Factor’ meets ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ will see 11 top UK contenders battle it out for the votes from the panel of high profile judges, whilst simultaneously trying to tickle the fancy of the contest goers in the wood lined splendour of the main auditorium.


It’s becoming a truly great event – helped by some innovative thinking by the sponsors this year in bringing all the music, drama, fun and games to an even wider audience thanks to its live internet coverage.

What the acts themselves will be like is anyone’s guess, but hopefully we won’t have to endure the banding equivalent of Wagner (the X Factor contestant rather than the composer), rumours of rigged voting or competitor tantrums.

There is only so much a brass band audience can take on a Sunday night – especially without Cheryl Cole to drool over…

Fortune has smiled benevolently on Brass in Concert in terms of the 11 competitors that will take to the stage.  Seven of the top 10 ranked bands in the world are on show this weekend.

One to savour

Although there are no overseas contenders, a field that includes the National champion, British Open winner and English National victor, as well the defending champion and some pretty successful entertainment operators is one to savour.

However, given the investment by the organisers in bringing the presentation of Brass in Concert into the 21st century (although the antiquated scoring system needs an overhaul), there is a real need for the competing bands to step up to the mark in terms of performance too.

Brass in Concert still has that very ‘home-grown’ feel to it at times – entertainment geared towards a domestic audience that the competitors think they know what it likes and wants to hear.

A familiar audience to please or not?
Picture: Ian Clowes

As a result, bands have tended to play to perceived ideas of what will, and will not, appeal to an appreciative, but inherently ‘conservative’ audience in the hall, that to be fair, does have the look of enjoying the BBC World Service, Terry Wogan’s TOGs and Alan Bennett monologues rather than Rock FM, Chris Moyes and Eminem.

Deceptive appearance

Still – appearances can be deceptive, and over the years some subtle tweaking of the musical sensibilities has gone down well – although it is doubtful that we will ever see a band opt for the homo-erotic subtext of Stavanger’s Gala Concert programme (brilliant as it was) a couple of years ago. 

Even Mary Whitehouse was rumoured to have been spinning in her grave that night.

No. It’s more likely to be the usual variations on the prescribed diet of the familiar; film scores and fancy dress, showcase soloists and show stopping tunes: Musical invention and innovation, with a very particular British flavour.

Saturday enjoyment

There is plenty to enjoy though not just on the Sunday, as Saturday is packed with fun for all the family with taster sessions and workshops led by Dr Nicholas Childs and players from Black Dyke.

These start at 9.15am, whilst there is an afternoon concert performance from the excellent Elland Silver Youth Band led by Samantha Harrison.

The Saturday evening Gala Concert is also a bit of a pre contest treat too with Black Dyke making what is becoming a regular appearance alongside defending Brass in Concert Champion Foden’s.

All the weekend now needs is the ubiquitous, bouffant haired Geordie songbird Cheryl Cole to make an appearance.

She knows we’re worth it.

Iwan Fox


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