Oliver – Live in Concert

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We drove down to Roger, Jane and Oliver’s this afternoon. The weather was horrendous, but it was well worth it as we were going to see Oliver playing flute in the East Herts Concert Band at their Christmas Concert.

St Mary’s Church, Standon

The venue was the delightful St Mary’s Church in the village of Standon, a Grade 1 listed place of worship near Puckeridge.

But before the entertainment, we needed to eat, and Roger had helpfully booked us in at The Star Pub. Even more helpfully, it was exactly opposite! Parking though, was challenging to say the least. We could have used the Pub car-park but due to some excessive faffing around by another motorist, we had to drive past the pub and eventually left Robert, with two wheels on the pavement in the street just up the road. Standon is only a tiny village, and the Concert tonight was therefore going to test everyone’s parking skills!

The Pub’s food turned out to be excellent, and they coped really well with the increase in trade generated by those heading for the same destination as us!

At 7pm, we retrieved the cushions that Roger had helpfully packed in readiness for the pews, and we headed inside the Church.

Unusually, the ticket price was based on ‘what you thought of it’ AFTER the event. I’ve not experienced this arrangement before!

By 7.30, the Band was assembled, but wait a mo’, there was no sign of Oliver! ‘The Devil’s in the Detail’ as they say, and a closer inspection of the programme’s cover explained it all! There were actually TWO groups of musicians β€” The Youth Orchestra and Concert Band β€” the former were on first and Oliver was performing later.

All-in-all, it looked like a great selection of Christmassy tunes β€” and at least the carols were ones that everyone knew!

Oliver was soon on stage! He played with confidence and the overall sound from the Band was impressive!

The final piece β€” Sleighride β€” was where both groups of musicians joined forces. It didn’t disappoint (given there were only about 40 players) and they produced an impressive full orchestra sound β€” it was the perfect way to end the performance.

The Concert finished just after 9.15, and we were soon on our way back to our premium B & B for the night! 😁. After breakfast tomorrow, we’re heading home to finish preparing the garden for the Winter!

Six Go Swinging!

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A short drive to Rushden tonight with David, Valerie, Jo and Janet for the Rushden & District RAFA’s “Swing’s the Thing” Concert.

We’d been invited to this fund-raising event by good friends Richard and Pauline, and being local, it didn’t take us long to get there. However, our unfamiliarity with the immediate area meant that even armed with the post-code, it still took us a while to zero-in on our destination – Park Road Baptist Church. The cramped streets of the older part of Rushden also meant that parking was a tad challenging!

Park Road Baptist Church in Rushden

We found a space for Robert and on arrival at the Church, it was clear to see that it was a well-supported event. So-much-so, that most of the seats ‘downstairs’ were pretty much occupied. We headed up the stairs and actually ended up with the perfect view! 😁

And although the view was pretty much spot-on, it was a shame about the sound (for the first half anyway). For whatever reason, the Band were far too loud – and we were furthest away! The drums, in particular, must have threatened the very foundations of the building! After a slightly confusing introduction to the evening where, after the fire exits were announced, the visiting local Mayors found themselves on the receiving end of a roll-call – there was some embarrassment all round as more than one was absent! πŸ™„

The sound problems were to continue when Katherine Mclean, the first vocalist of the evening, was drowned-out by the poor sound balance. With a 20-piece Band and a single vocalist, it was pretty clear who would win! I felt sorry not only for her, but also the local Mayors, who because of their status, were seated right at the front – they must have been deafened! 😫 Perhaps the mayoral-absentees knew something we didn’t! In fact, I think pretty much ALL those in the first six rows will have suffered. On the positive side of things though, I could see many in the audience were wearing hearing-aids, so at least they could turn the volume down! 😁 Not so, us poor youngsters though!

All-in-all, the first set featured a good blend of tunes – including some Basie and some Bond! But the event was running late, and by the time we got to the ‘8.15 interval’, it was closer to 8.35. With David and I still on our Β£1-a-day Challenge, at least we didn’t need to queue with the masses for refreshments! πŸ˜‰

Happily, the sound balance during the second-half was a lot better. Local legend Mel Peake belted out his set with professionalism and punch. Last time we saw Mel, it was for Ann’s 50th Birthday party at the ‘ill-fated’ local attraction ‘Club Diana’ back in 2011. He didn’t disappoint as he effortlessly delivered numbers from Elvis Presley and Tom Jones wowing the audience with every note. A true showman! To see the local Mayors waving their arms about in unison in time with the music, gave us all hope that even politics can achieve harmony when there’s a good tune about!

Bar the sound issues, we enjoyed the evening. Given the good attendance, it was clearly going to raise a lot of money tonight (we reckon Β£2500 just on ticket sales) and we were pleased to be part of it. With Mel still ringing in our ears, it must have close to 10.30pm when we left, but at least that meant the roads were quiet!