Sunday 20th January
Venue: Centre Stage
Draw: Saturday night
Adjudicators: David Read & Mike Fowles (music): Chad Shoopman (entertainment)
Live comments by 4BR Editor Iwan Fox:
What do we think?
It may have been a nine hour long day but it has been nine hours of great brass band entertainment.
Hats off to all the bands as we haven't heard one piece repeated and we have had programmes from both ends of the entertainment spectrum - from Wingates great contemporary set to Woodfalls fluff and sparkle.
That said, the best overall package for us came from Virtuosi GUS, who really played with so much maturity and just tweaked their programme to give it a bit of extra sparkle from Brass in Concert.
Close behind today for us is Redbridge who were inventive and classy - as well as witty with Desford in third after they finally showed their overall quality.
Reigning champions Flowers just needed more contrast and a little less muscle today but still should be fourth, whilst Carlton Main should just pip the froth of Woodfalls.
Behind them its EYMS, Marsden, Wingates, East London Brass, Thoresby, Unite and Yorkshire Imps.
4BR Entertainment Prediction:
1. Virtuosi GUS
5. Carlton Main Frickley
10. East London Brass
12. Unite the Union
13. Yorkshire Imperial
4BR Overall Prediction:
We have counted our votes and places over the two days to come up with out overall places to see who wins the prizes here in Skegness.
1. Virtuosi GUS
3. Carlton Main Frickley
11. Unite the Union (City of Sheffield)
12. East London Brass
13. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel
13. Thoresby Colliery (Brian Grant)
'Blenheim Flourishes' is played at one heck of a high paced tempo - perhaps too fast really capture the bold pomp of the music that does in fact celebrate a great old English lump of real estate. They tend to do things a tad more relaxed even with servants in the posh parts of Britain.
'Hot Canary' is played at a fair old lick too, although euph soloist Ian McCormick tweets as well as Stephen Fry. Bravo young man.
Lovely contrast is shown by the ensemble in John Taverner's 'Mother of God Here I Stand' which is played with sensitivity and warmth before we segue neatly into the finale of Matthew Hall's 'Nightingale Dances'.
There is neat sense of style and purpose in each avian variation that builds and builds - although the perc is very, very heavy at times and robs the music of delicacy. The turbo boosters are on for the final fly past though and it is rounded off in bomper style and fashion.
William Himes and his 'Procession to Covenant' provides a warmly hued finish for the band that just has enough in the tank to reach the alter with a little left to spare.
Overall: A fairly straightforward programme set that perhaps needed a bit more invention and at times a little less pace to have really made a mark today. That said it may just have done enough to just sneak a too six place overall.
12. Flowers (Paul Holland)
What a powerful start from the defending champions with the thumping 'Ride' that almost pins you back in your seat from 40 yards away. Real high energy playing with huge ensemble sounds.
Contrast comes with the old Rolling Stones hit 'Wild Horses' via Suzanne Boyle and a bit of help from the talented Huw Cole on electric piano. Andrew Smith delivers in a manner both she and Mick Jagger would be proud off. It was lovely lyrical playing of a piece given a fresh inventive make over.
More Jonathan Bates to follow after his arrangement of the opening, with his own 'Concertino Catalonia'. More high energy, power laden music making full of Spanish colour and texture and lots of light fantastic effects. It really hits the bullseye like a errant matador.
Fine treatment of Wilby's 'Family Portrait' second movement from 'Lowry Sketchbook' is enhanced by touching video montage, although it doesn't quite mask a few little gremlins in the ensemble. Bravely done though.
Andrew Duncan's Apollo 11 inspired 'One Small Step' takes us off for the finale - with the deafening countdown (and it was deafening) completely obliterating the band. Everything is a bit on the Apollo scale in volume at times with this not helped by the hall PA system it must be said.
The splashdown is a huge one too in what was a finale of epic sounding proportions even if the content was a little more open to question.
Overall: Another very powerful performance - at times too loud in some of the items to show off the real contrasts required. Some beautiful touches but overall it may just come up short today and overall to make it a hat trick win.
11. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Dave Nesbitt)
Imps have opted for the arrangement talents of the great Mark Freeh for their programme and fly off stateside with his witty upbeat version of 'Promenade' played with verve but quite a few nasty blips and blobs.
The famous Hootenanny take on 'The Chicken Reel' is played at a quicker pace than you can get a mega bucket KFC delivered to your door. The pity is that it is played with the same number of scrappy pieces of goodness in it too. Plenty of fizz and bubble but it still left you unsatisfied. The cockerel crow to close wasn't great either.
The tuba soloist Barry Tufnell delivers a sultry upbeat take on the 'The Carioca' which just gets a bit over fruity in places as the band tries to hard to impress by volume. Less is more at times.
There is so much more to enjoy when the band takes away the volume to reveal warmth and texture to Greig's lovely 'In My Native Country' - played with simple elegance. This was fine brass band ensemble playing.
Back over the Atlantic for a spicy take on 'El Cumbachero' which is not quite red chilli hot but still leaves you gasping for water and breath, before we come to the old cornet trio of 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy'. It's not quite up there with the Andrews Sisters but it woke up some sleepy pensioners here.
A long programme comes to a close with a bit of Prokofiev and 'Enemy of God' and 'Dance of the Spirits' which are short, bold and a tad harsh as stamina wanes.
Overall: A bit of a hotchpotch of arrangements that didn't really hang together and sounded overlong. Some decent playing but nothing that really showed the band off to its best. Will struggle to make their mark today.
10. Virtuosi GUS (John Berryman)
GUS reprise their Brass in Concert opener in stonking fashion with Jonathan Bates' 'Tortuguero 6' which delights in the way it realigns your lower colon. This rumbled better than Ali/Forman in Zaire.
Andre Baker's boldly coloured remembrance of a M62 night drive in 'North and the Winter Moon Rises' is played with just the right sense if chilly magic too. Interesting piece that. Very evocative.
More interest created with a bit of a gypsy tango in John Iveson's sultry treatment of passion and distrust in the trumpet duet 'Jealousy' played with just the right touch of scratch your eyes out waspishness by Peter Collins and James Fountain - all without music too. Ole!
The Khatchaturian 'Galop' has that neat dislocated feel too - and played with such precision and panache. Cracking bass trom gives the whip a deep fruity snap to push things along. Top quality band ensemble playing this.
More high quality Brass in Concert reprise in the David Livingstone inspired 'The Smoke that Thunders' - a piece of colonial empire building musicality. We do miss Meryl Streep saying "we have a farm in Ahfricaaaa" but you can't have it all even with the picture postcard images.
There is just enough in the tank to deliver a rousing ending too. This could lead to Stanley saying, "Butlins Champions I presume?"
Overall: Another high class performance this from GUS who sound a band reborn. This was top drawer playing on a well chosen programme from start to finish. Will take some beating today and for the 10 grand top prize now.
9. EYMS (Alan Morrison)
A real bopper of Stevie Wonder's 'Sir Duke' gives a funky feel to open the proceedings - all minus the MD who waits in the wings to make his entrance. Polished stuff that.
The birthday boy appears to lead the band in accompanying a suave and velvety Mark Unsworth in 'My Funny Valentine'. Nothing funny about that though - quality and understated style permeate from start to finish.
MD goes all Austin Powers and 'Soul Bossa Nova' to follow, and he takes the lead on trumpet playing with that sparkly lightness of a Brazilian number 10 with the ball at his feet, or the great Alan Foggan on a muddy Ayersome Park in 1974. What a man of mystery baby....
The big finisher is Alan's gospel take on 'The Holy City'. It's highly choreographed and highly effective too. The sop pings the eyeballs out in places to round off a really effective take on one of the great classics. The audience really lapped that one up!
More gospel to close (it will get the strict Methodists complaining!) but its a classy bit of razzle dazzle that smears along in just the right grubby style. What a great finisher - Lordy, Lordy!
Overall: EYMS have put themselves right back in the mix after this well worked and highly polished programme. Had substance to go with the style too, led by the MD on sparkling form. Age shall not weary him....
8. Marsden (Glyn Williams)
Stan Kenton's fizzgoggingly upbeat take on the big band classic 'Malagueña' opens things up with a touch of Iberian colour and passion. It's given a real thumper too.
Baritone soloist Michael Cavanagh delivers a tender rendition of Elgar Howarth's bucolic arrangement of 'Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair' - so well shaped with intuitive nuance.
More neat contrast follows with music from 'Indiana and the Last Crusade' and the turbocharged motorcycle and sidecar chase from the Nazis in the John Williams 'Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra'. It benefits from not being played as if ridden by Barry Sheene too - so that it captures the witty essence of their flee from the comic book Huns.
The first swagger march of the day sees the old Rimmer classic 'Punchinello' played with a fair bit if pomp and splendour. A reminder of when Foden's ruled the banding world (that's now and back in 1910 then).
That's followed by a bit more music from the history books with Cole Porter's 'Be a Clown' which still sounds fresh and witty after 70 years. Played just at the right tempo and no theatrics and provides a nice counterpoint to the John Ireland melody, 'Love Unknown' which follows led by principal cornet Jason Evans.
After the calm comes the storm of the thunderously dark finale if 'Checkmate' which is exciting but so scrappy and harsh. They didn't need to blow off the gunnels quite like this as the very last few bars lose their dramatic impact. It should build with searing finality to the denouement but this seems a little too brutal a killing.
Overall: A well chosen programme that just lost its focus with final two items. Lots of quality and solid traditional brass banding virtues in a set that may just have benefitted from a little bit of something out of left field.
7. Desford (Russell Gray)
An inventive opening comes with 'Blue Devil's Space Chords' with the MD at the front of the fanned out band playing them like a human orchestra. Clever stuff.
The space theme with 'Mars' from the 'The Planets' which is played with real dark menace and helped with another dose of atmospheric lighting that included the misterons from Captain Scarlet making their evil way across the stage backdrop. Very good ensemble playing this though - with an imposing pulse that never veers off course.
More quality follows with an atmospheric take on 'Mansions of the Lord' played with lovely phrasing and appreciation of the necessary cultured to a climax and then repose.
Contrast comes with Pat Methany's 'Beat 70' played with suave fizz amid and even tasteful screaming in the cornet lead.
Michael Howley displays a lovely French musical accent aided by the odd pint of Stella with a bucolic take on 'Jean de Florette' - the 'Force of Destiny' theme, before the quick segue into a truncated version of Peter Graham's 'Shine as a Light' brings things to a call.
The time constraints make this cut version sound insubstantial and lacking coherence to the programme as a whole, despite it being belted out with true vigour.
Overall: High class playing set this apart today so far. Great contrasts on display even if the finale was cut to smithereens. There was substance about the playing that showed off the band to fine effect. If only they could have played as well as this yesterday then they may have been right in the mix for the ten grand rather than the podium places.
6. Woodfalls (Paul Lovatt Cooper)
Now comes fun time Coops with more froth than an explosion in a cappuccino factory. He's even wearing a smart Italian white jacket.
It all starts with the choreographed 'Sempre Fidelis' and then leads into the full crowd participation mode of 'You've been Warne'd' with Clapalong audience and all the fizz and fun and games that tend to hide the actual playing. Great style on both opening items, but the substance?
More entertainment from the Disney stable this time with the whimsical 'Little April Showers'. Only PLC could pull this off - complete with video from the film, wind machine and bottles to catch the drippers. Clever presentation, but the tuning is awful - even in the bottles!
Now we head to the Carpenters and Scott Stewart with an upbeat 'We've only just Begun' with bass guitar led accompaniment. Stylish, swish, bubbly and cleverly insubstantial. It's a bit smoke and mirrors this at times, but it is presented and executed so effectively.
Peter Graham's 'Renaissance' is bright and purposeful to close, but now we get to hear some of the inherent ensemble problems that have been hidden a bit today. Tuning isn't always great and the precision is wayward too. It's a bit of a mix and match piece too although it does end things with a flourish.
Overall: Woodfalls played to their and their MDs strengths and gave the audience a huge dollop of sugar coated, high calorie entertainment fayre. It was certainly all that and more and is perhaps a dead cert of the entertainment prize, but has it left the door open for rivals to beat it to claim the overall ten grand first prize.
5. Wingates (Andrew Berryman)
The full set is taken by Paul McGhee's contemporary 'Episodes, Occurrences and Interludes'.
This really is music to get the mind thinking - so brilliantly written and displaying real innovation and inventiveness. Whether or not it goes down well here with this audience is another matter, but you have to take your hat off to Wingates for this.
Each of the six movements is played without a break and lead us through a dark, mischievous, acerbic mind set. There is real atmosphere created here in such a different way. The slow movements really draw you in - helped by the atmospheric lighting effects.
The audience is also helped by the composer's own notes appearing on the big screens.
Great solo interventions keep the focus of the music in the mind, whilst the MD has maintained just the right equal pulse of the music from start to finish. the Bacchanalia inspired final is a fantastic kaleidoscope of ideas and themes that come together with such alacrity and fission.
Overall: Hats off and thrown high in the sky for this. Contemporary music played in this way works and this showed it. may not appeal to everyone but the ideas and the construction was clear and so was the story it told. Brave choice very well played.
Special mention to the Redbridge sop who stepped in to play literally with seconds to go. Pints of free beer all night for you laddie.
4. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
Peter Graham's 'Phoenix' from his 'War of the Worlds' opens in fizzing fashion with great light show accompaniment. Good sounding ensemble playing this with pulse and rhythmic precision.
Chris Bearman plays the Mendelshon violin finale on tuba with a degree of virtuosity that would make Nigel Kennedy go green in the gills. It's bravura playing of a very high class. Bravo. That was a corker my son.
Leonard Ballantine's 'I know thou art Mine' is a bit overwrought though - just crying out for less to make more of the music. It got very fruity at its climax. Good playing but it could have been great.
The dancing take on the Louis Prima 'Sing, Sing, Sing' features two great dancers giving it their all. No Ann Widdicombe or John Sergeant moves but plenty of fizz and fun. The band playing is full of brio if not really in true swing style but this works and works well.
The Bill Bailey/Manger alpine horn feature of 'The Swan' follows. Clever stuff - played with dry wit and musical inventiveness. Really well done - slick, polished and funny. Not many will match this today we think.
After all this good stuff and the start to Alfred Reed's 'Russian Christmas Music' is way off the mark in precision and tuning. The focus or concentration has gone AWOL for a minute, but it recovers. Not everything quite comes off as the band sounds tired and a bit harsh, but it just has enough in the tanks to sound the Moscow bells for the rousing climax.
Overall: An interesting and enjoyable set from Redbridge that featured plenty of excellent stuff. The soloist was outstanding and the humour worked so well. A little unsure about the swing and the Russian finale, but overall this was high quality playing and a well put together programme.
3. Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) (Derek Renshaw)
Music from the 'Halo' video game franchise to open with the thumping 'Tip of the Spear' which has the pumping power and the expectancy of death and destruction to come at the hands of a teenage computer geek in a Sheffield bedroom. Cracking stuff.
The suave sounds of bass trombone soloist Richard Bond on 'B'Bye' is played with relaxed smoothness. Nicely done with sympathetic accompaniment too.
The contrast with Phil Collins and his big band bash 'Sussedio' doesn't really fizz and lacks pulse. There is a bit of screamer playing, but it all sounds so restricted and contrived. Not one that really worked as it could.
John Lee's flexible musicality brings things back on track with Flugel lead on 'Touch my Heart' that is played with a lovely understated understanding and warm ensemble accompaniment.
Back to the big funky stuff for the finale with 'All Night Long' complete with the cornets dancing like the 70s Commodores. It needs extra pulse though to help it along. We have been here before with this stuff. It certainly cleaned out the wax in the ears though.
Overall: A programme that perhaps could have taken a few more risks. Great start and solo items but the funky stuff sounded old and no longer particularly innovative. Solid playing and well put together it may hold its own but nothing more today.
2. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)
Inventive opening with the voice of Frank Phillips tells us all what to expect with the 'London Calling' theme.
Curtain up on 'Henry V' music from The Globe leads to swing time jazz and 'Foggy Day in London Town' played with slightly dislocated swing style but plenty of brio. Two real contrasts to start.
Curtain down for a quick video intro which leads into a great new arrangement of 'Westminster Waltz'. The voice overs work, and the images too. Curtain rises, but the playing is a little scratchy and the odd toe is stepped on in places.
Something modern with 'Congestion Charge' by Nigel Hess offers more Londoncentric eccentricity to the set and bubbles with Jeeves & Wooster light wit. The playing is a little scrappy in places, but the theme works so well.
A touch of Dylan Thomas poetry leads into 'Song for Athene' played at Princess Diana's funeral, played with lights down to create atmosphere. No blubbing mass hysteria thankfully, but plenty of delicate melancholy.
'The Tempest' quotes stirs the loins of proud Englishmen as the band close with 'An Epic March' by that old leftie John Ireland.
Overall: What an interesting concept and so well portrayed. There was something of interest from start to finish, even though the playing was scrappy and inconsistent. May not win today, but could make a mark with David Read on the innovation front.
1. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Leigh Baker)
Great funky opener - with weird and wonderful 'Cloak & Dagger' that pumps through with so much energy.
Kirsty Abbotts reprises 'Send in the Clowns' from Brass in Concert programme to follow. A great arrangement is played with such tender melancholy. What a gem to start the day - absolutely sublime cornet playing.
The fast paced horse race march 'They're Off!' follows with a crack of the whip style and perc playing hitting the poor nag harder than Lester Piggott on Nijinsky. A short 5 furlong romp that really works.
The new take on 'The Acrobat' as a humour led trom trio with a bit of swing and vocals gets a response in the hall, but it so dated and lame. There was a tumbleweed moment in it that was uncomfortable to watch as the solo trom started singing.
The huge finisher is a real eye popping blemmer called 'Epiphany' that is pack, bold and full of energy. Don't quite see where it fits in with the circus theme, but it was very well played and had so much fizz.
Overall: A programme of some superb highs and just the one low for us. Kirsty Abbotts was simply sensational and the opener and march were great. The humour element was as let down though - strangely dated and not very funny. The finisher seemed out of place in the programme theme but was so well played.
Saturday: Set Work
Saturday 19th January
Venue: Centre Stage
Test Piece: 'A Tale as Yet Untold' - Philip Sparke
Adjudicators: Dr Robert Childs, Michael Fowles, David Read MBE
4BR Halfway prediction:
Two bands stood out from the rest today for us, with a performance of real maturity from Virtuosi GUS playing of the very highest standard.
John Berryman really produced the goods with his band and they lead the field for us in the press box.
Close behind though was a polished, powerful performance from Flowers, which really keep them right in the hunt for a hat-trick and triumph tomorrow.
It's much closer to call behind this with the dramatic approach of Woodfalls perhaps edging out the likes of Carlton Main, Wingates and Thoresby.
Marsden, Desford, Redbridge and EYMS just end ahead of Unite, Imps and East London at the end of the first day.
1. Virtuosi GUS
4. Carlton Main Frickley
11. Unite the Union (City of Sheffield)
12. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel
13. East London Brass
13. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
A powerful stamp of precise ensemble playing is heard to open - this is bold stuff. Just a bit messy in some areas, but the MD is looking for the drama and richness in the score. Lacks a bit of control and just hurries towards its close, but this was playing of passion and urgency.
More flowing musicality. MD is really shaping this boldly. Players respond too with bravura cadenzas played from heart. The lovely hymn to follow is subtle. Just gets a tad overwrought maybe in the climax, but the control returns for the close.
Scrappy start to final section takes time to gain clarity and precision but it then bounds along at a vibrant lick. The noticeable errors in some lines do detract though - just taking the gloss off the finish. It's got a bit edgy in the search for that extra tad of excitement as it flies to the close - which really is banged out with finality.
Overall: an interesting and engaging one this. Lots of drama and energy, but also a high minor error count too. That may just cost it a few places.
12. Woodfalls (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
What a bold start - a real pinger with the dynamic contrasts. Its big and bold but scrappy too in the ensemble and some lead lines. You have to say it is very dramatic and colourful though. Great sop really tops things off before final blemmer of a final bar.
MD is taking risks with the approach which is elongated and stretched like elastic. The players revel in it. The substance is open to a bit of question but the style hits a tempting mark. This is a very brave approach that could come off big style if liked in the box.
More drama and technicolor playing that certainly excites despite the scrappiness. The vibrancy of the music shines through and the build to the finale is handled deftly. The motor is turbocharged for the last fling, which draws real excitement from the whole band. Cracking close.
Overall: An interesting one this - a bit of an acquired taste maybe but certainly excitingly, colourful and dramatic.
11. Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) (Derek Renshaw)
Bold and purposeful playing this, but it needs more precision and controlled accuracy to capture the feeling of vibrancy. Perhaps a touch too aggressive in places, but it does require a sense of commitment to make the music come to life. It's all in there though even if it is scrabbling to speak at times.
More considered approach in second movement works well with sublime trom and solid solo lines a feature. MD intelligent approach allows the music to emerge with tasteful clarity. Lovely close.
Just a tad too lacy to start but it finds its natural speed and horns give a robust edge to texture. There is a great deal exciting playing on show even if it is scrappy in places. It retains that sense of vibrancy thighs all the way to the close, despite the occasional nasty clips and blemishes. A real thumper of a close.
Overall: Unite pinned their colours to the mast with this one - bold, exciting and scrappy, but one that made the right impression with its musical approach.
10. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)
A hesitant start sounds just a tad nervous, but it soon recovers its poise and has a free flowing musicality. Just the odd blemish deters but the musical picture is clearly defined and set out with considered appreciation. It grows in confidence.
The musical shape of the music is so well laid so despite the little scrapes and blemishes the flow isn't stopped. Cadenzas are well handled. All the basic elements are in place - all it needs is that extra dash of confident panache. Fine close.
Sensible tempo allows the music to sound clear and defined even if it just starts to sound tired in place. Great xylophone is a feature and perc plays it part in full. Now we get the brio and vibrancy as we head for home. Great build to a super finish.
Overall: an enjoyable performance based on intelligent leadership and appreciation of strengths and weaknesses. May not feature but not out of place in this company.
9. Desford (Russell Gray)
A messy start takes time to find the necessary accuracy but it is high paced and thrilling. Despite the inaccuracies the musical approach is so clearly defined and shaped and shows the music off to fine effect. Just those sloppy moments detract.
More lovingly crafted phrases and lines, aided by a batch of artistic soloists. Horn in particular stands out. Just those messy ensemble moments mar all the fine work. The ending is a thing of beauty though - sends shiver down the spine.
More of the same - great shapes and flow marred by scruffy individual lines and incoherent ensemble. What a pity as this is a reading that makes so much sense. Bold finish has so much to commend, but comes too late.
Overall: A frustrating one from Desford. So much quality evident but it sounded about 2 rehearsals from being a belter.
8. Virtuosi GUS (John Berryman)
What an impressive start - a truly magnificent ensemble sound full of rich warmth. The detail and precision is so good too. So much to sit back and enjoy with this - the music flows with vibrant musicality. Superb sop is thrilling.
Sloppy opening to second movement is such a let down, but it soon recovers with that balance and security of musical purpose. Cadenzas are so well handled too - with solo cornet and trom the pick. MD allows the music to flow with real elegance.
A little messy to open but it finds its natural pace and that sparkle to the ensemble comes right across too. There is something in reserve for the final flourish too - played with purpose but also control. That big warm sound is never edgy even in thumping close.
Overall: GUS really upped the ante with this one. This was a high class rendition of a very classy interpretation from the MD. So much to enjoy.
7. Flowers (Paul Holland)
An opening that means business leads into playing of high quality in both solo and ensemble lines. It's powerful stuff at times and perhaps just needs more contrast and texture, but the sense of confidence, flair and poise is unmistakable.
More quality - if a little robust in the dynamics. All soloists nail cadenzas - with bravura horn and baritone and very classy cornet. Sop thrills. More bold musicality follows, but it is anbitnrednin tooth and claw.
This is good stuff - great xylophone features. The band is playing with real panache now and the stamina is impressive. Just gets untidy at full bore, but it is thrilling playing and the close has a thump that hits you back in your seat.
Overall: A high class, powerful rendition that leads the field but could just have benefitted from a touch more considered musicality and dynamic contrast.
6. Thoresby (Brian Grant)
Neat start is full of control and lightweight touches. MD is keeping the lid on dynamics and we get to hear contrast and texture. Nice solo cornet adds a lovely strata of warm musicality. Boldness comes at just the right time.
More control and delicacy feature even though not everything hangs together in places. cadenzas are well played if a little pedantic in places. Again solo cornet adds that extra touch of class. The shape of the close was so well moulded.
Just the odd problems in everything being heard as they should. Sounds a little tired in places but the shape of the music is very persuasive. Just gets a bit out of kilter at times and we lose the core quality. Recovers in time for a decent close.
Overall: Much to like with the very musical approach although the messy finale movement may just cost today.
5. Wingates (Andrew Berryman)
Fine start leads into detailed ensemble work that has musical flow and technical consistency. Lovely little elements come through much to the benefit of the music. Sop is excellent and euph has stamp of class.
More flowing musicality and lovely touches from soloists in cadenzas. Bravo one and all- especially baritone and horn. This has been the best of the day. The quality shines through and has control too. Just the odd nasty moment detracts.
Final section starts messily and takes time to find control and precision. Just lost its focus this - and it's a pity. Gains more of a foothold as it goes along but the scrappiness continues. Has something in the tank to rouse itself for a bold close.
Overall: A very enjoyable performance that just fell away in the final section - although not be much. A good one that should feature - and deservedly so.
4. Marsden Silver (Glyn Williams)
Neat start has all the detail and sense of forward drive. MD keeps the music flowing and we hear little inner detail for the first time today. Trims are excellent and the back row plays it part in full too. Great close - so well managed.
This has that extra touch of quality too - with. Fine solo contributions from all lead lines with sop adding touch of extra quality. Euph is a star and the ensemble backing adds contrast and texture. Just the odd moment here and there but these were minor quibbles.
Bold, detailed and purposeful -!this really does flow with purpose and intent. Lots to admire about this playing and the way in which he has the feel of reaching a climax of purpose and accuracy. Spot on stuff and a fine finale too.
Overall: A classy well worked performance this - nothing overdone but the playing always had purpose and clarity. Impressive.
3. EYMS (Alan Morrison)
Solid opening sets out its stall in no nonsense fashion. Doesn't sparkle but the clarity of the main lines and ensemble is evident. Nothing overdone or over fashioned here - just purposeful playing that flows so well.
Lovely start just loses its focus in places but we hear a super euph and quality lead lines. Sop adds touches of class. Just a little artistry would give this the sense of cultured aplomb but the artisan virtues have stamp of authority.
More good playing delivered with musical and technical sensibility. MD keeps the control, but it could do with a little bit more sparkle. Lots left in the tank for a finish that signalled real intent.
Overall: As solid as they come - nothing overdone or misplaced. The reins could have been slackened in places but this was consistent and controlled.
2. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Dave Nesbitt)
A decent start to the opening but it then seems muddied and inconsistent, Not all the inner detail comes through and it just doesn't sound at ease. It becomes a bit of a battle in places to sound controlled.
Some lovely touches in places, but once agin you feel as if it is on the edge of the ensemble and solo limits. Cadenzas are given bold renditions but don't quite come off. The latter part of the movement flows neatly to close
Scrappy ensemble robs the feel of purpose and drive. Again - it just doesn't quite knit together with the precision that is really needed for this to shine. Plenty of stamina in the tank for a bold and powerful close.
Overall: A bit hit and miss this. The good stuff had that stamp of authority - but there just wasn't enough of it overall
1. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Leigh Baker)
What a good start - so detailed and precise. This makes a real impression. Just the odd moment or two that doesn't quite shine as well, but these are minor quibbles.
Second section starts with warmth and the quality of the main solo lines has a stamp of authority and artistry. Bravo euph and especially trom. MD has allowed this to breathe and flow.
Scruffy opening to third section is a disappointment and it takes a while to find its feet. It seems caught between two stools here. Recovers well though and there is plenty in the tank to round things off with a real flourish.
Overall: A solid marker that had extended moments of class and quality. It's a good marker but is beatable.
The Centre Stage venue is currently enjoying Brass in Concert champions Cory in entertainment mode under Philip Harper
We have made our prediction and are now looking forward to some food, listening to Cory and finding out the real result. Check our 4BR predictions out though
There will now be a big break, then Cory in concert with the results in about 2 and a half hours. Our opinion to come on the results soon.
It's all come to an end now as the audience file out after over 9 hours of brass band playing. It's been a a really enjoyable day, so time has flown by.
Brian Grant leads a very determined and purposeful Thoresby through its paces - and it's high tempo paces at times too.
Quite a few people have decided to try and get an early lead in the queue for tea and there are few empty seats, but the hardy souls give warm applause to welcome then in stage
We are now waiting for the last band of the day to take to the stage in Thoresby Colliery. To think this all started at 9.00am
Blimey! There were people deafened in the audience by the video of the last Flowers item. We could hear Neil Armstrong's famous strap line in Glasgow.....
The audience hears that Cory are just about here after a marathon journey up from South Wales for their concert tonight. Should be worth the wait.
Imps leave the stage and now it is the turn of reigning champions Flowers to see if they can make it a hat trick of Butlins titles.
Imps seem to have a very long programme - there are six items in their set so they must be close to the limit.
The tall figure of Dave Nesbitt lopes onto the stage and leads Imps in a programme that features all Mark Freeh arrangements.
There is a bit of coming and going after GUS have played as Yorkshire Imps take their turn under the spotlight.
The applause from the audience told the story. They think they possible heard the overall 2013 champions elect with GUS.
Could Virtuosi GUS have finally landed the Butlins title? Three quarters through their programme and you sense the audience knows their are in pole position and repelling rivals
The audience know that GUS could be the band to beat today. They are proving to be a knowledgable and appreciative crowd.
A warm welcome from the audience for Virtuosi GUS and the national treasure as Frank calls him in John Berryman. It's their contest to or lose after yesterday.
We are now into the last third of the contest - another 3 hours of action to sit back and enjoy. It may be snowing outside but its nice and warm at the Centre Stage in Butlins.
The 4BR Editor has opted for a top four of Redbridge, Desford, Carlton Main and Woodfalls around the half way point.
People are sitting back and enjoying the varied selection of music today. Eight bands in and we only now get our first swagger march of the day. What joy....
Halfway and people are starting to make their minds up on their favourites. Desford or Redbridge for quality of playing, Woodfalls for sheer entertainment.
It's been good to see so many bands make use of the additional features of film, video, lighting and even dry ice to help the atmosphere of performances today.
Desford need to make up lost ground today and they know it. They will need to be on tip top form to push their way into the podium slots overall.
We are currently watching a really inspiring item on the Mbale band in Africa. Check it out and see if you can help in any way.
The audience at Centre Stage has been treated to both ends of the musical entertainment spectrum in two bands in Wingates and Woodfalls. Which do you think they prefer?
Lots if audience participation, fun and games and high energy with Woodfalls. The audience is loving it, but it is a bit candy floss in substance in places.
Now for something for the PLC fans with the entertainment crowd pleasers of Woodfalls. Plenty of fun, fizz and froth then to come for next 20 odd minutes.
Well that got everyone talking. Some loved it, some hated it, but you must admit, it certainly got you thinking and engaged. Not what you expected at Butlins and all the better for it.
There is a stunned silence descending on the hall with this piece, but there is also a feeling of engagement too. What response this gets will be interesting.
Wingates opt for Episodes, Occurrences and Interludes by Paul McGhee for their programme. Now this is left field contemporary music. What a brave choice.
David Cooper from Redbridge steps in at very last moment to help Wingates on sop. What a superb effort with just a couple of minutes to sight read Paul McGhee music!
The audience really enjoyed the inventive set. A question mark over the type of dancing in the Louis Prima item though - was it from the wrong era to the music?
The judges will have a hard time picking a best soloist today. The standard so far has been excellent with more treats to come
The audience has really warmed up now and there is a real buzz about the place. Standing room only in places.
A solid enough one from Unite and now we wait to see what Jeremy Wise has come up with with Redbridge.
A programme of contrasts is starting to be enjoyed by the audience. The quieter more reflective items seem to gain the lasting response rather than the fleeting big bash numbers.
MD takes to stage in best Tony Manero white jacket and launches straight in video game music. Now that's a bit different...
Break now and then comes Unite the Union. Starts agin in five mins or so.
A bit of John Ireland to close with his Epic March rounds off a very interesting programme from ELB. May make a bit of a mark today this even if the playing was a bit hit and miss.
Bloody hell - Dylan Thomas to William Shakespeare. It's been like a brass band version of QI this.
There is a real sense of inventive engagement with this programme set by ELB. The audience appreciates the effort with warm, knowing applause.
The audience is engaged by the innovative approach by ELB. There has been time, energy and thought given to this programme.
The band enter to the voice if Frank Phillips and 'This is London Calling' from the height of World War 2.
We are in between bands at the moment with East London Brass on next. Their programme is entitled London Calling.
That's the first band out of the way bang on 10.ooam. Crowd enjoyed it but there is a great deal more to come. East London Brass on next in 5 mins or so.
Carlton Mains new finisher is a big bash called Epiphany. one to get the blood warm this in the veins
The audience certainly liked the new take but it was strangely dated in approach with the humour element that seemed strained. All that was missing was George Chisholm with the Flumps music
A new take on the Acrobat should tickle the fancy of this audience. It's now a Leigh Baker trio.
The audience is transfixed by the cornet solo in a cracking arrangement of Send in the Clowns. Richard Rock's take on the classic won at Brass in Concert - and you can hear why.
Carlton Main will be playing a circus themed programme according to Frank. Leigh Baker leaps on stage and we are off
Chad Shoopman will be judging the separate entertainment prize today. £1000 up for grabs for the X Factor
Frank Renton is doing the intros and getting the first laughs of the day. David Read and Mike Fowles have a long day ahead in the open listening to the bands
There is plenty of dry ice on stage at the moment - either that or Frank Renton is having a sneaky fag...
Doors are now open and in flood the audience with the front seats filled up at a stroke. 2000 people expected to be crammed in today
It looks as if we will be running a bit late this morning. Another 10 mins at least before Carlton Main start
The hall is starting to fill up now as Carlton Main do a quick sound check on stage. The action could be 5 or so minutes late
We are back in the Centre Stage venue as the back room staff start preparing for the entertainment section starting at around 9.00am
We've done our prediction at the halfway point and gone for GUS, Flowers and Woodfalls followed by Carlton Main, Wingates and Thoresby. The rest some way behind
Thats it for today with the results from the other sections announced around 8.00pm tonight. We will give our opinions at the halfway point shortly.
Redbridge round off the contest with a bold one. Jeremy Wise went out on a bit of a limb with this approach. Not quite what we expected.
Jeremy Wise is drawing the drama and deep, dark textures out here - and the audience is drawn in. Dead silence at close of first movement tells the tale.
Redbridge may fancy their chances on this piece today. They certainly sound confident to start.
The audience certainly liked Woodfalls and the excitement they generated. Whether the real detail came through though in the box we will have to wait and see.
Woodfalls are really going for it with this dramatic approach. Style over substance maybe, but it is very effective.
A confident Woodfalls start off in rousing fashion with the MD in flamboyant mood with the stick.
Next band on is Woodfalls under PLC. A good show today may set them up nicely for the defence of their entertainment title tomorrow
Bold stuff from Unite - they certainly sound a top section outfit even if the occasional sloppiness harks back to their First Section days.
Unite the Union take to the stage. National First Section champions will want to make a real impression here - and start well too.
East London head off stage relieved but pleased you sense with that performance. Not out of place today.
After a slightly nervous start you sense East London growing in confidence. MD has kept the music flowing from start to finish.
Jayne Murrill leads debutants East London Brass onto the stage. A few nervous smiles before they head into battle.
Typical Desford and typical Russell Gray. The big picture is so well laid out, but some of the inner detail is messy and unsure. The music comes first though.
Desford take to the stage looking very relaxed under Russell Gray and start in flowing mood
GUS on thrilling form produce a top drawer performance here. MD asked for rich musicality and got it back in spades. The leader for us.
The hall is filing up now and the temperature is rising too - I can feel my toes at last
GUS straight into the thick of it and deliver the best opening movement of the day by far. Wizard playing.
We are having a break at the moment before we get back to the action with GUS
Flowers produce a performance to stick in the frame for certain today. All laid out with such purpose and authority
Flowers set off as they mean to go along - playing with poise and a fair degree of individual and ensemble flair. This is a band meaning business
The stage is set for the reigning champions who take to it with a sense of confidence that is felt from the word go. Flowers have that strut about them that suggests they are in determined mood
Thoresby will be well pleased with their performance today. Brian Grant led a confident band in a very intelligently conceived interpretation.
Brian Grant not as animated as we have seen him at times and it has the effect of keeping the lid on things with Thoresby. This is moving along nicely.
Brian Grant at the helm for Thoresby as they start in powerful fashion. This is confident playing with euph a real star in idle section.
It's starting to warm up contest wise with the quality starting to shine through with Marsden and Wingates. Still plenty to play for as Thoresby walk to the stage
This has been an impressive performance from Wingates - full of quality solo lines - espeically baritone and euph. Right in the mix thanks to a very musical approach by MD
MD has a lovely flowing style to his conducting. we spot Ben Richeton on sop from Fairey who soon pings a few fizzers out
MD has a lovely flowing style to his conducting. we spot Ben Richeton on sop from Fairey who soon pings a few fizzers out. This has been an impressive opening
MD has a lovely flowing style to his conducting. we spot Ben Richeton on sop from Fairey who soon pings a few fizzers out. This has been an impressive opening from Wingates
Wingates up next with a purposeful looking MD striding onto the stage in Andrew Berryman
Marsden produce a quality performance that benefitted from excellent solo lines and detailed ensemble. Up there so far thanks to MD knowing how to highlight the obvious strengths of his band.
The dome of Glyn Williams head shines in the spotlight at a certain angle. His band is doing the business though - detailed solid and well structured
The Centre Stage venue is very cold this morning. The coats are on and you can see the odd wisp of cold breath....
EYMS produce a solid no nonsense account with Alan Morrison. Didn't sparkle but everything was well laid out and clearly portrayed. Had something in the tank to close too. Special mention to super sop
The test piece is showing its teeth today . You can see why Cory nailed it with their star soloists at the Europeans in 2010, but this is on the limit for these bands
A scruffy one from Yorkshire Imps didn't quite knit together. Plenty of moments when the quality was evident, but the consistency wasn't always there. Middle of the road today
A solid opener from Carlton Main sets a stiff bar for the rest to follow. Had its real moments of quality with fine soloists in particular and bold ensemble sounds
The test piece has all the usual Sparky elements - more than enough to test the very best bands today for certain. The start of the final movement is a bit of a bugger....
The cadenzas are a real test spot today - and Carlton Main's players nail them well. Solo horn really gives it the welly to great effect.
A polite smattering of applause at end of first movement is greeted with a Roger Moore arched eyebrow by MD. Good start this by the Yorkshire band
Not completely full in the hall but it is warm and Leigh Baker is in his best summer suit at the head of Carlton Main
National Anthem being played by Carlton Main as we speak. Can't here yourself think for the rousing singing....
At the main Centre Stage venue and waiting for the start of the top section at 9.30am
The weather reports says more snow to come today. Heavy falls in the west that are moving over towards the east with around 2-5cms on higher ground. Weather experts give yellow warning - take great care
The latest weather reports show lots of white stuff heading in from the West over the next 12 hours or so. Butlins have told 4BR that the contest weekend in on and they have a warm welcome waiting for everyone.