Become a DCUK Facebook Fan

DCUK & Cadence present an International Summer Spectacular


This is the second of the reviews we have been sent following the International Summer Spectacular contest in Woking on 4th July 2015 - thanks Andy

The chance to attend a DCUK show at a good venue with a lot of old friends being present and a group of Corps that included an international presence with Blue Devils International Corps (BDI) was too good to miss.

Set off to Woking which was all good until the M4 and tailbacks and road works - why is it in the UK we have miles of road works with nobody working on them??

After some route changes arrived at Woking FC to hear the sounds of horns floating across the hot Summer air - bit different for the neighbours who must be used to the singing and chants from Woking Town supporters.

On entering the ground we were met with the site of BDI running a clinic with horn players at one end and guard at the other, percussion were off at another part of the venue. The whole thing was great to see with parents and many alumni members of many past UK corps watching and taking in the whole scene before them all good on a hot summerís day.

The chance for young and some older members from UK corps to interact and learn from the members and staff off BDI was pretty special for all involved; it was obvious that learning and memories were all part of the occasion.

The end of the clinic saw all involved perform what they learnt in the process-including Eternal Father-the Navel hymn and a Man Loves A Women.. we could certainly do with more of these sort of opportunities in the UK thatís for sure.

BDI treated us to a run through of part of the show plus playing through a couple of numbers in a practice session a chance for those watching to see some of the BDI rehearsal techniques and appreciate the whys and whatís to fitting the show into the confines of the arena for the Basel Tattoo.

Onto the show proper-opening the day we had three junior units-which gives me an chance to praise the two organisations that had competing units, both Cadence and Thurrock have recruited at the youngest end of the activity-offering the chance for the education of youngsters through music and marching. While others have forgotton for whatever reasons Cadence and Thururock have set ups that the rest of us should follow. Itís an easy answer - you have to recruit at the bottom to maintain the top and everyone has to buy into keeping the activity strong for all - as the line from the film says" if you build it they will come"

Cadence Cadets -these truly are cadets-show based on Frozen. There is no room to be critical of the Cadets they proved that they have musical understanding and presence on the field-the tunes were recognisable each section worked well to maintain tempo and some definition the guard especially were a joy to watch-boy were they determined to get that snowman built.

Cadence Juniors-music from the Harry Potter films-showing the progression learnt from being part of the Cadence team-here we had some obvious understanding of music and marching-musically some good touches built into the framework of the show and a guard that is getting the role of selling the production complete with a wand battle. Itís easy to see that the growth in this show will happen with more effect and general cleaning coming through as the members get more and more into the product.

Thurrock Marching Brass-"Leo music" as with Cadence, education is a major role for this group. Here we had a lively start with brass and percussion pushing the opener along with the guard acting out the role of born to be wild. Its cool to see how this group has progressed understanding in all areas is much higher, we have musical depth at times and a visual progression comes through. The closer of Happy sums up the overall performance and both the corps and the crowd reacted to the show-special mention to the young lady on the DM's box-the force is strong in this one-great presence and real understanding of her role for one so young.

Summary of the junior class-the future for some is good the rest of us need to learn and recruit the youngsters of today to be the corps members of tomorrow..

Open class-
Phantom Knights-presenting moods from the film Frozen-starting with a dark musical presence the brass scores almost seemed to come across as being written low and the balance in the piece certainly weighed heavier towards the percussion. The 2nd number had a lighter feel we had a sense of clarity and good reading of forms across the field. The third number was effected by some poor visual clarity and we had loss of continuity in musical impacts. Moving on we got some greater understanding of visual to musical tempos giving a better sense of depth. The closer had some good ideas a little spoilt by over blowing from the sops. The basis is in place to improve this show with cleaning and the younger members will certainly improve in strength and confidence through the rest of the season. The guard stood out as being the strongest section and certainly showed some touches of quality.

Celtic Crusaders from Ireland -presenting a show entitled Mirror images. The show started with mirrors spread across the field and two dueling sops, this was followed by some good movement across the field accented by a splash of colour - some of the which created a good effect. Issues with execution did cause difficulty in matching the visual book to the music book also mellos need to tone down at times as overpowering the rest of horn line. The guard told the story well throughout the performance and this was enhanced as the drum line took up flags during part of the show. There was some very good understanding of what was being portrayed and how it was required to come over to the audience good buy in from the members-a lot of dirt effected the music and visual books clean this up and it could be a real surprise package.

Beeches-presenting the Sword-I will start by saying I thought this was the best show of the smaller corps today-not having a Guard does not give them a true reflection of score and placement-perhaps a reason they score better in the BYBA system !! The show itself is quite dark in approach saying this it contains good visual and musical match ups and there certainly is a good understanding of presentation from the members. Each section works well to pull a good standard performance level. As with others execution issues do spoils some of the pictures being presented. I had difficulty getting into the show in terms of musical production just didnít grasp my attention saying the this due to the performance level I was able to grasp and understand the storyline as required...for me I would use the young lady dressed as the white knight as a full time guard member adding even a small Guard score would give greater deserved recognition and maybe a true result.

Pacemakers-music from the Pirates of the Caribbean films-the singing from the costumed members at the start set the theme presence for the show. The performance suffered by overblowing especially from the sops and the guard seemed unsure of the flag work during parts of the performance-The staging and use of equipment with the ships wheel and the swords added good effect to the theatrics...the use of electronics was a good point with sounds created to ad effect not just bulk out the show.. There was an issue at times with music and staging causing reading issues of the performance-lots to clean and lots of potential to do so-its an enjoyable show and a good concept in process.

37th Kingswood-The Destination-from the opener we were given an obvious story setting as the guard in character took centre stage. The opener was spoilt by lots of visual dirt and inconsistency being shown through the brass book. Circle of Life introduced a much better feel with greater understanding from all sections perhaps this is the piece that the members grasp the most at present. the whole show in general seemed disjointed at times with the music and visual not really having great cohesion as yet. As is recent tradition the percussion is the strongest section and put out some good stuff for the age group in the lines of both battery and pit. The horns are well controlled and getting used to the performance level and the Guard have good knowledge but need to clean big time. The 37th have always been a corps for cleaning heavily for the 2nd half and moving up the ranks at that time looking at the show and potential I see the same again this year.

Cadence-present Castaway-this was a show I was looking forward to as the Corps is bigger in numbers for 2015 and had gained some experienced people in the recruitment process as always the younger membership comes through with the Cadence recruitment policy being the answer to this. It was obvious from the set up that the Corps has a greater field presence. We had better sound control fitting to the greater visual balance in general although would question some of cohesion between pit and battery which seemed to be fighting against each other at times. There were some great touches in the production the backing from the pit for the baritone soloists was a joy and some of the visual nuances were an added benefit to the overall picture. At present this is the show that needs the most cleaning there is some real dirt in all sections that is keeping the score down at the moment. When Cadence get this to where they want it you can see a much more competitive level and enable them to not have to look over their shoulders but instead look to be pushing Juliana.

Interval time for a pint and to catch up with old friends...

Opening the 2nd half of the Open Class we had:
Liberty-presenting Together-using an expansive form to set the scene-as the opener progressed we had different voices being added to enhance the electronic feel from the front-this worked well with the visual formations as they built to a logical conclusion, the show continued using pod formations and using the guard to add blocks of colour through various flags -maybe not big enough to get the required impact. There seemed to be some good ideas from the corps but the show ended abruptly. Overall need to enhance dynamic range and explore further within the theme-finishing the show will help - far from a finished product again potential is there.

Stafford Lancers-War of the Worlds-starting with a strong opener using logical visual forms to strengthen the music being presented. the main theme was effected by overblowing from the top end brass and indeed we suffered with intonation and control issues from the brass during the whole performance. It was good to have the story telling using the logic of the original album from Jeff Wayne. Overall the guard had some good work as did the horns then they held in check, the drum line seemed to have a bit of a down day which was a shame as they can be the strongest section. Had heard rumours of a singer being part of the show which we didnít have a shame as it could well have added extra depth. It seems the Corps is behind in the learning process this season. Iím sure it will come good 2nd half.

Jubal-Beyond-And so enter the big guns-joining us from Holland and using a pre show to set the scene attention was drawn to the field-marching double of some of the other corps gave them a real presence and certainly they lived up to their own high standards. From the expansive opening set the adding of visual hit points and musical voicing plus the the guard introducing colour into the focus the audience was hooked and with the power that was introduced at mid point and then end point things looked good for the corps in Orange. The percussion is the strongest section and certainly pushes the tempos and sets the drive for the rest of the corps to add too and enhance. I loved the ballad some great controlled brass balance and the free flowing guard at this point added a kaleidoscope of colour and impact. The whole show was carefully put together and well thought out and the audience reacted with standing O.

The Company-Voyage spectacle-loved this from start to finish-the story line is easy to follow and the quality of ideas and directions taken are excellent. This is one clever corps using theatrics and musical and visual nuances to get the story line over, the horn line has some issues at times but certainly at this time some of the movement is fast and covering distance which is effecting the breath control etc.. battery and front line are as competent as ever and wow they can certainly add in some high impact backing beats to the music book...For me the guard do a brilliant job of telling the story in line with rest of the corps adding some great costumes and some lovely theatrical touches. Last year I didnít overly like the singer sometimes the balance didnít seem right-this year to me its spot on-her character role is excellent and the cohesion with the voicing and the brass is a well-balanced sound .This show is great and when clean will be a fire cracker.

Kidsgrove Scouts-The Stone Circle-considering the age group of a lot of the scouts a show celebrating one of the UK's historic monuments is quite appropriate!! This show is big and as many would see pretty much old school- itís not really it has lots of hidden depth and ideas come through as the show progresses. From the opening build to the first major hit in the opener there is much more going on than past years, visually lots of contrast and all backed by the strong guard that really push the story line. Battery and front line have solid books at the moment they are lagging behind in the scoring stakes then Iím guessing we will get greater cleaning and some more meat into the music books to close the gap. Horns are the best Iíve heard them with Tez and Craig now working together we have a much better quality of sound and a much more balanced level control during the show. Possibly we could have more movement at times in terms of velocity but then would we lose the greater effect built into the production. Hereís hoping that the Scouts get rewarded for the stronger production when they head to DCA. Overall great show with lots of power and lots of old school for the 80's guys and gals in the audience-for me plenty to absorb and enjoy.

Juliana-present Romeo and Juliet-smaller than the top 3-certainly they seem down on numbers on last year ? This said for the size of the corps a lot of smaller groups competing could learn from them, the show works well to fit the confines presented. All sections work hard to present their books in a solid production, the horns certainly can give power that is way bigger than the size of the line, drums are solid and the smaller guard work really well to achieve a picture to accent the music book. I must admit I started to be distracted while Julian were performing the show just didnít have the little extra to grab me and old me in. Overall itís a very solid show just nothing outstanding.

And so we end the day with an exhibition with BDI-quality production Rhapsody in Blue, Man Loves A Women and Channel One Suite are the main show all put together to fit in the confines of the arena when they get to the tattoo in Switzerland. Within those confines we have enough to show how drum corps can be fitted together with precise understanding of sound levels and logical requirements to sell a package-from top to bottom it was just entertainment and quality. We were also given a selection fo other music from past Devils history all lapped up by the receptive audience. From me a big big thank you for getting to the UK - the attitude of the members and staff, the interaction during the clinic and after were a credit to the Blue Devils organisation... we can only hope this might get to be a regular thing.

Final thoughts results in and had a couple of different placings in my own as Iím sure others did.  The crowd for a UK show was brilliant and the response to each and every corps was great to see.  My thanks to DCUK and Cadence for putting together a show that did a lot to show what can really be achieved in the UK.

Report by Andy Hulbert

Photos by Matt Sewell/Paul Westfall

15th July 2015



© Drum Corps United Kingdom 2015
DCUK is a member organisation of Marching & Performing Arts United Kingdom