GMVC Concert – Review

Gresley Male Voice Choir presents Grimethorpe Colliery Band, Burton Town Hall

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the treasures we have right on the doorstep.

Take the town hall. Now I’ve been there for functions, beer festivals, concerts and gigs but because it’s the town hall I’ve not really paid attention to my surroundings.

My lack of attention was brought home to me at the Gresley Male Voice Choir presents Grimethorpe Colliery Band concert on Saturday, February 27th.

Both the Grimethorpe band and members of the audience I spoke to thought the acoustics were wonderful and the hall itself a magnificent piece of Victorian architecture.

One gentleman summed it up as ‘a simply marvellous night out.’

The choir and the brass band were born out of mining communities that have long since been destroyed, but the power those communities had lives on in the social heritage represented by both band and choir.

The soul of the mining communities was kept alive by the selection of music at the concert with one of the highlights for me being the juxtaposition of Rita MacNeil’s Working Man, from the choir, a tribute to the lives that have been lost underground and the joint rendition of March of the Peers from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe containing the lines: ‘Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes! Bow, bow, ye tradesmen, bow, ye masses.’

The evening was compered by Tim Cox of Gresley Male Voice Choir who, along with the conductors – Dr Robert (Bob) Childs for Grimethorpe and Karl Harper for Gresley – brought a very human and humorous touch to proceedings.

One exchange was particularly memorable with Tim introducing the first set by Grimethorpe as: “Grimethorpe are going to sing,” swiftly corrected to: “Grimethorpe are going to play, sing or something.”

Which was picked up by the Grimethorpe conductor who said: “You really wouldn’t want to hear us sing.”

There were many, many highlights, among my favourites was Grimethorpe’s Carnival of Venice which conjured up village fetes and park bandstands on summer evenings. Gresley’s The Mansions of The Lord was spine-tingling as was Danny Boy.

Grimethorpe swung into the second half with Let’s Face the Music and Dance which Gresley matched with the Rhythm of Life, Grimethorpe pulled out the classic – the finale from William Tell and the march Death or Glory both of which had feet tapping and heads bobbing.

The finale brought the audience into play with a rousing, roof-raising Jerusalem, at which we were so good they let us do it twice.

At times moving, at times barnstorming. Always wonderful. Quite simply a great night out that showed me that although the mines have gone. The spirit of the pits is alive and well.

- Bill Pritchard

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