Butlins certainly rolled out the musical carpet to honour Stan Lippeatt on his 70th birthday.
In his capacity as Musical Advisor he has been an integral part of the family orientated revolution that has been embraced by this festival weekend. Here he was paid the warmest of tributes by friends and colleagues in a great evening of entertainment that had more stars woven into its massed band fabric than the American flag.
This then was ‘his night’ - unashamedly so.
The brisk ‘Troika’ opening led into a tunefully sung rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, before Stan took the baton for the hymn tune, ‘Nearer my God to Me’ and the patriotic ‘Rule Britannia’ overture. In a lovely touch, his daughter Amy pulled at the heart strings as she delivered the flugel film classic ‘Orange Juice’, with her father conducting.
Elsewhere it was all smiles and fun - the augmented trombone section giving ‘The Bold Gendarmes’ a blagger’s run through, whilst Scott Bennett paid homage to Stan’s much missed former colleague Brian Smith, with the classic ‘Misty’.
Old Grimethorpe memories were rekindled with ‘Mr Lear’s Carnival’ and ‘Cops and Robbers’, with Stan’s self-confessed ‘favourite march’, ‘Knight Templar’ given the full swagger monty.
It was also great to hear his great pal and soprano legend Peter Roberts again, courtesy of the video performance of him in his prime, whilst the classic up-tempo ‘Toccata in D Minor’, contrasted with Mark Walters in wonderful lyrical form with ‘Time to Say Goodbye’. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ took everyone back to their 1970s yesterdays.
Frank Renton (who was in the finest form himself) led the troops through the concluding section of Eric Ball’s ‘Journey into Freedom’ in a way which left everyone yearning that they’d heard it in full. It was a lovely touch of emotive music making.
All good things had to come to end though, and the obligatory ‘MacArthur Park’, and comedic ‘Riverdance’ featuring the Irish dancing of Jamie Smith and Mark Walters acted as the warm up to the curtain call of Stan returning to the rostrum for ‘One Voice’.
It was very apt given that he has always been the most vocal supporter of Butlins commitment to the banding movement.