Concert: Black Dyke - Glastonbury Festival

Conductor: Professor Nicholas Childs

Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury Festival, Somerset 25 June, 2017

Black Dyke Band has enjoyed a proud history spanning over 160 years. It has played in some of the World’s most prestigious concert venues, collaborated with a spectrum of artists, produced numerous recordings and emerged victorious at all ‘major’ contests time and time again. However, on 25 June the band broke new boundaries yet again when it made its debut at the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, headlining on the main famously named Pyramid stage to commence Sunday’s festivities.

I had the pleasure of accompanying Black Dyke 
to the Festival, which is the World’s largest with 175,000 revellers attending every year. It was certainly a family affair - my wife Katrina is the band’s star baritone player and we also brought our baby daughter, Gabriella (complete with baby ear-defenders), who at five-months-old may have been the youngest partygoer in attendance!

Black Dyke players were delighted with their ‘rock star’ treatment from the outset. Upon arrival, they were whisked away to the backstage area and shared a Green Room with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Biffy Clyro and Barry Gibb (of Bee Gees fame). They rubbed shoulders with other morning ‘headliners’, including the charming Jamie Callum, jazz musician and BBC Radio 2 presenter, who was very complimentary about the band’s performance.

Playing first thing on a Sunday morning and being an ‘unknown’ act in the musical circles familiar to Glastonbury, there was a little trepidation that Black Dyke’s set would be ignored by the regular festival- goers. However, with an attractive and upbeat programme selected by Professor Nicholas Childs, the crowds quickly gathered to watch the unusual, uniform-adorned musicians on stage.

Nick Childs roused the crowd brilliantly with a call of “Good Morning Glastonbury!” as the band set off the show in style with John Williams’s Olympic Fanfare. It continued with the famous Black Dyke Big Band Set, as well as arrangements of songs by Status Quo, David Bowie and Earth, Wind and Fire, and it brought a smile to my face to see people actually dancing along to the band’s performance!

Admirably, the band’s set also featured original brass band compositions, the main work coming from the pen of Simon Dobson. Entitled Chromeclaw, it was a high-octane work in a drum and bass style, which Simon was invited to conduct on the day.

One of the highlights for the crowd was a medley of hits from the James Bond films, and the band’s enthusiasm and energy was particularly palpable
in this piece. Introduced as the Black Dyke
Bond Girls, to the delight of the crowd and the
girls themselves, the ladies of the band played Nobody Does it Better - a fitting sentiment for 
the whole event.

Congratulations to Black Dyke for a sterling show, both live performance and during the BBC television coverage aired later that evening, which can be viewed below.

As a brass bander at heart, I was proud of what Black Dyke did for the brass band community that day and, judging by the crowd’s reaction, it could well have paved the way for our movement’s involvement in similar events for years to come.




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