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Brass in Concert Gala Concert

Foden's Band
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Featuring: Matt Ford & Mike Lovatt
Sage Gateshead
Saturday 17th November

The ongoing debate about how brass bands can successfully attract new audiences to hear them perform in a different way was amply displayed by this evening of outstanding entertainment.

Foden’s have already linked up with big-band singer Matt Ford for a series of acclaimed concert performances in the past year or so, drawing an increasingly diverse audience to medium sized venues that allow for an intimate appreciation of stylised musicality combined with high class showmanship and swagger.    

Interesting and intriguing

Around 700 people (about two-thirds capacity) were persuaded to come along here. Many were traditional brass band concert goers of course, but quite a few would surely have been the type of occasional listener to who a night like this held interesting and intriguing appeal.  

The duo was joined by the imperious Mike Lovatt - also fresh from teaming up with the Sandbach band for a brand new CD release entitled, ‘56° North’ – with the renowned lead trumpeter on searing form throughout on a programme billed as ‘Sinatra and the Swing Legends’.

What we got was pizzazz and polish by the bucketful on no less than 20 items neatly arranged with stylistic understanding by the likes of Foden’s trombonist John Barber and Colin Skinner.

What we got was pizzazz and polish by the bucketful on no less than 20 items neatly arranged with stylistic understanding by the likes of Foden’s trombonist John Barber and Colin Skinner. 

Relaxed tether

The ‘classics’ such as ‘Malequena’, ‘Caravan’, ‘Minnie the Moocher’ sounded fresh and authentic, whilst ‘Moon Dance’, ‘I’ve Gotta Be’ and ‘If I Never Sing Another Song’ never came across as stilted or inflexible - thanks to Matt Ford’s malleable phrasing and MD Mike Fowles’ ability to extend a relaxed tether on pace and dynamic.

John Barber also took the opportunity to shine as a sole performer on piano with Matt Ford on ‘My Funny Valentine’, whilst Mike Lovatt displayed the full array of his talents on great arrangements of ‘Under Mount Lee’, ‘Mame’ and ‘China Town’. His CD would have sold rather well on the night.

‘New York, New York’ and ‘My Way’, sung with suave nonchalance by Matt Ford rounded off a refreshing, invigorating evening. 

It may not have been packed to the rafters, but this was a concert that held the promise of a bright future for all concerned. 

All we can hope is that there are more like it to look forward to in the years to come.

Malcolm Wood

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