DCUK Championships 08 - Report by Ian Scaife

Concord opened proceedings with a regal fanfare by their fanfare team, setting the scene for Poynton Commodore Cadets who gave us a rousing exhibition. The crowd were enthusiastic from the start and the young members must have enjoyed this.

Tunes such as ‘When the Saints’ and ‘Great Escape’ got the crowd clapping along throughout, with rapturous applause at the end of the performance.

Next up, performing in the National Junior Class, were Kidsgrove Scouts Juniors. Their exhibition performance earlier in the day saw them wearing traditional scout uniforms, reverting to the classic red, black and white for finals in the evening.

They looked professional entering the field and ‘The Junior Medley’ provided plenty of entertainment from start to finish.

‘No Limits’ kicked things off, which was followed by ‘Over the Rainbow’. Special mention for the baritone soloist, with a very well received solo.

‘When the Saints’ made its second appearance of the day, and it never fails to get the crowd going. Well done to the drums for giving the tune the classic march feel.

Just when we thought it was over, we were treated to a surprise ending of ‘Ode to Joy’, with the guard pulling out a large Fleur-de-Lys banner to remind us of their scout heritage.

First place in the National Junior Class with a score of 58.85.

Concord opened the National Open Class in the classic style we have come to expect from these true entertainers.

‘Mobster Inc: The Gangster Chronicles’ provided a trademark Concord show, with a few nice visual twists. The pit percussion were set left of centre; opening up centre-field for the performers, which was used to great effect throughout.

Prison bar props across the field added to the theme and atmosphere of the show. 

The brass and drums start the show behind bars but, naturally, are soon released to cause mayhem. The guard….rather, gangsters’ molls, enhance the mood. The opener included, of course, some traditional Concord swing.

The theme from ‘The Godfather’ gives us a bitter sweet dance scene where the musicians compete for the attention of the ‘Molls’. Soon shifting gears into a cool ‘Mambo’.

Laid back grooves and nightclub ‘speakeasy’ moods layer the show through to the conclusion of yet another hugely entertaining Concord show. (3rd place, 72.45).

Staffordshire Knights entered the field looking extremely effective in their modernised black and white look with the classic SK pink insignia.

‘Nessun Dorma’ gets the show underway. The familiar fanfare melts into nice textures from the pit. The piece then ebbs and flow towards an emotional climax.

‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ follows, suggesting a classical theme throughout the show. But this is a swing version!!! Very imaginative and hugely entertaining. I am sure Grieg would have approved of the re-interpretation of his work!

The classical theme continues throughout, showing a variety of different moods and styles, from dark and haunting to romantic, all performed in true vintage drum corps style, which was extremely well-received by the crowd (2nd place, 75.25).

You gotta love the Poynton Commodores!!! Why? Well, they are pure entertainers who know how to put out a drum corps show that everyone will enjoy.

‘Ride’ kicks things off. Pulsing percussion supports the drill development. Subtle backfield brass builds the tension as the picture builds. We are being teased!

The tension is soon released when they blast into a powerful fanfare. The Commodores make a bold statement then back it up with thoroughbred music and movement. They shift effortlessly through moods, tempos and time signatures.

‘We Go On’ showcases a more sensitive side to the corps, followed by ‘Millennium’, which is a truly majestic piece and appreciated as a true drum corps classic performed superbly by the Commodores. From the opening familiar melodies of the piece, through the regal push and whiplash drill, up to the final chord; this was exciting stuff.

Great performance, and deserving winners. Hope to see you in the International Open Class next season! (1st place, 84.10)

Next up was the International Open Class shoot-out. Kidsgrove Scout, the current holders, against the Senators, 7 time UK champions and current European champions.

Kidsgrove first up with ‘Cirque d’illusion’, which is an interpretation of illusion and reality by ‘observing, examining and enacting the art and science of circus’.

‘Distortion’ sets the scene. The immediate visual image can only be described as liquid drill shifting unpredictably yet cohesively. Familiar circus musical themes drift in and out of the sea of confusion. There is a genuine sense of foreboding. The Scouts mean business!!!

The power of the full ensemble remind us of the familiar big and bold Kidsgrove Sound. The trademark Kidsgrove sound is there, but wrapped up in something very different to what we have seen before.

The percussion line drive the show forward, but are remarkable subtle. The brass are handling darker and more complex arrangements compared to what we have seen in the past, whilst being able to convey a more gentle side, which is an area they really have developed in recent years.

And the visual performance just seems to be a bit more imaginative and assured, with the guard always adding that extra dimension, this time on a visual and psychological level as they guide us through ‘Concealment’, ‘Perception’ and ‘Phantasm’.

Kidsgrove Scouts have arguably had the most distinctive sound in the country over the past few years. This year they have built on their sound and reputation and put out an extremely challenging, complex and intelligent, yet hugely entertaining production. 

I, personally, had the Scouts 1st in visual and general effect. (2nd place, 82.35).

The Senators……...well, there is very little so say about these guys that has not been said before. 

Last season, they embarked upon a new journey of originality and creativity. They really do seem to have the ability to re-invent themselves at will and this year saw them continue with the new formula with their ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ production.

Upon first viewing during the afternoon exhibition performance, the show did not open up its secrets to me. It was clearly technical, very fast most of the time, and ….well ….interesting. 

The theme was engaging but the corps did not seem to project the narrative or commitment to the theme. I was left a little underwhelmed and mildly disappointed.

Their evening performance was different, to say the last. This was a world class performance! The show concept seemed to fall into place. What the show may have lacked in pure emotion, it made up for in shear edge of the seat dark-edged thrills. It may not be drum corps for your granny, but it is drum corps for the thrill-seeker or the connoisseur!

The Senators took all the captions, which is a reflection of the ability of the corps. Whilst the brass and battery percussion may steal the plaudits, it was the melodic and harmonic soundscape created by the front line tuned percussion that captivated the writer on numerous occasions throughout. 

The guard just seemed to fit perfectly within the overall visual picture, which, needless to say, was performed in classic Senators style and technique

British Champions once again (83.85). Where do they go stylistically from here? 

Who knows, but you can be sure they will be the team to beat at next years’ 30th British Drum Corps Championship celebration.

See you there.



© Drum Corps United Kingdom 2004