The 19th of June saw the long-awaited return of contesting to the British Youth Band Association and proof positive that the UK marching band activity is still alive and kicking following its enforced absence.
Speaking to Oliver Richardson, Corps Director of Revolution and Contest organiser prior to the event, there was no way he was going to cancel the event even when two bands were forced to withdraw just a couple of weeks beforehand, “The show was going ahead even if just Revolution are performing” he told me.
The Cougar Stadium is an ideal venue for a band contest, set away from residential housing, self-contained with good facilities and a large stand giving a good, elevated view of the field.
There were four units taking part however to extend the day a little host corps Revolution also performed an exhibition run-through to kick the day off.
Revolutions’ 2022 show entitled ‘Broadway’ tells the story of a young girl’s arrival into the bright lights of Broadway. The music is mostly original with stylised vocal samples used to good effect to chart the characters journey through audition disappointments to eventual success, ultimately earning a star for her dressing room door. Visually some good staging, however a little more integration of sections wouldn’t go amiss.
Phantom Knights show is called ‘Day & Knights’ with popular music from the likes of Queen, The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Linda Perry to mention just a few. The show is marked by some fascinating layering and combinations of music that I’ve never heard put together before; like the opener which combined ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’!
I get the feeling this is one of those shows that needs a few listens to really appreciate the ingenuity of the arrangements. A little ragged at times and not quite finished visually but it’s early in the season and I see real potential in this show.
Revolution Juniors are the cadet band of the senior corps and performed in exhibition only. This was a static performance which included ‘Hot Hot Hot’, ‘You Raise Me Up’ and ‘Paint it Black’. A great performance by Revolutions’ younger members that bodes well for the future of the band.
Concord AllStars were again performing in static exhibition only, their music included ‘Mr Blue Sky’, ‘I Want You Back’, ‘Wellerman’, ‘Cantaloupe Island’ and ‘Storm’ percussion feature. Although static this was a very interactive performance with the audience clapping along and shakers and rattles passed out to judges and members of other bands!
The results saw Revolution edge out Phantom Knights by less than a point 54.20 to 53.55 and I’m sure this won’t be the only close fought battle these two corps have this season!
Talking to staff from all the bands on the day the overriding feeling was one of relief to be back on the competition field. Every one of the bands who made it to the field are winners in my book and judging by the response the audience felt the same too.
Finally, credit must go to Oliver and his team at Revolution for being bold enough to press on and run the contest where others may well have given up... I even understand the contest made a small profit.
Make a date in your diaries for the next BYBA show which will be held at The Spencer Community Trust Stadium, Northampton on Sunday 3rd July!
Many thanks to Richard Haw and the UK Marching Band Community for allowing us to republish this review, and to Peter Fitchett of Fitchett's Photography for the header image.