After a short break, we were treated to a performance of Any Way the Wind Blows, a Queen-inspired show that Beeches had intended to take to the Drum Corps International Championships in 2020. Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and shattered those dreams – there is still a travel ban in place between the UK and US today – so this was their moment to bring that performance to a live audience.
The show began with a tribute to Freddie Mercury’s iconic “EEEOOO” at Live Aid 1985, with a call and response between samples of Freddie’s vocals and the audience. The front ensemble then brought us in with Queen’s One Vision, overlayed with more samples from Freddie, before a terrific brass fanfare brought the rest of the corps in for a short snippet of Princes Of The Universe.
The brass then continued to take the lead, bringing us in with a nice ballad-like entry to Don’t Stop Me Now. It took a short while for Beeches to settle into this piece, but when they did it was magical. Features were traded between the drumline, guard, pit and brass, giving each of their sections a chance to show what they can really do. I was particularly impressed with the drumline – what they lacked in size (2 snares, 3 basses), they more than made up for in ability.
A gorgeous flugel solo from Daniel Rivett followed as Beeches began their ballad – Love of My Life. The silky-smooth playing here really brought a great contrast from the speed and excitement of Don’t Stop Me Now and made for a more reflective part of the show. The ballad cleverly switched to Who Wants To Live Forever? and showcased some great ensemble brass playing, which was reinforced with some tasteful swells on the suspended cymbals.
Beeches concluded their performance with Bohemian Rhapsody, which brought a perfect blend of the excitement of Don’t Stop Me Now and the controlled ensemble playing of Love of My Life. I must admit that I had goosebumps for the last 30 seconds or so of their show (and still get them watching back videos of their performance) because the writing, the playing, the ensemble sound, were just so nailed on. Bravo!
Beeches’ performance left me wondering “what if?” What if Covid had never struck and they had had a full season to work on that show? What if they had managed to get it on the move? What if they had taken it to DCI? Sadly, we will never know the answers to these questions, but if Sunday’s performance was anything to go by then the result would have been on another level.