A joyous Christmas

Alnwick Playhouse Concert Band during the concert at Bamburgh Castle
Alnwick Playhouse Concert Band during the concert at Bamburgh Castle

REVIEW: Alnwick Playhouse Concert Band performed a Christmas Concert at Bamburgh Castle on Saturday, December 20.

The joy of the season was in full swing during this Christmas cracker of a show by Alnwick Playhouse Concert Band.

The group, which recently celebrated its 20th birthday, has forged a fine reputation over the years.

And it is easy to see why after Saturday night’s accomplished display.

Performing in front of a sell-out audience in Bamburgh Castle’s stunning King’s Hall, the band gave a slick and professional rendition of an array of festive songs.

If you didn’t have the Christmas bug before the concert, you most certainly would have done after this jolly and festive musical treat.

The mulled wine and mince pies in the medieval kitchen during the interval added to the seasonal feel!

Led by composer Ray Thompson, this quality group demonstrated their diversity and range.

There were carols, pop songs of the season – including Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody – and other Christmas classics, such as Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

There was even a James Bond medley; included in the programme because there always seems to be at least one 007 film on television over the festive period. Indeed, the latest offering of the spy series, Skyfall, is being shown on ITV on Christmas Eve. Fittingly, the movie’s title soundtrack was included in the Bamburgh Castle concert.

All of the songs were introduced by members of the band, giving a history and background to each tune.

There was a touch of humour in some of the introductions and this audience interaction gave the show a real personal touch.

For all the joy and toe-tapping entertainment, there was also a poignant part to the proceedings. The band performed a rousing collection of war songs, followed by a delicate rendition of The Last Post, rounded off by Silent Night, which was the carol sung during the Christmas Day truce of 1914.

This reflective part of the evening commemorated 100 years since the start of the First World War and there was something incredibly touching about it.

The atmospheric venue, with its rich array of artwork and weapons through the ages, seemed to add to the poignancy of the moment.

Speaking of carols, the audience was encouraged to participate by singing along to the likes of O Little Town of Bethlehem and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

The evening was rounded off by a group sing-song of We Wish You A Merry Christmas, followed by a warm and hugely-deserved round of applause for the band.

The concert was a fine festive treat and was certainly the early Christmas present I was hoping for. And if the evening was anything to go by, here’s to another 20 years of this renowned band.