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End of the first half in Leicester - a review


A second review we have been sent following the DCUK Leicester on 19th July 2015 - thanks Andy

And so we find ourselves heading into the Summer break after the last DCUK show of the first half held at Leicester.  

Our venue was the Saffron Lane Athletics Stadium - part of the complex that used to contain the fabled Saffron Lane Velodrome one of the venues DCUK used for many years, sadly now its housing! Still many happy memories for a lot of us Iím sure.  

As an instructor for the Comets PE I was looking forward to the Corps taking part in its first ever DCUK comp - which they were all looking forward to being part of.  

I had explained to them that we would be last but were looking for the experience and the thoughts of a different judging system and mainly different judges it was also a great chance to take in the top two groups in the UK.  

I can only thank DCUK were how welcome the Corps was made, the communication has been excellent and we had the bonus of watching the company rehearse great for the kids and good for me as I got a chance to catch up with old friends and watch a very well ran practice-as always using time wisely in the UK is always the best option and believe me he Company certainly make full use of the time they have.  

My apologies to a couple of groups as I only found out I was still writing this report when we were setting up for the Comets performance.  

So didnít get to watch Concord other than from back field - they had however parked next to us and I was amazed to see the numbers Concord have recruited - to me shows totally why recruiting the youngsters should be a priority for all. Noticeable also to me was a lack of nerves from the members they just seemed focused and ready to go.  So my back field perspective was one of a pretty good sound and competence in the areas required. The musical choice is entertaining and the audience response was good so must be doing things right. In terms of the junior class should be good at finals -from seeing them all its going to be good friendly competition and they will all be the real winners.  

Comets PE-this is a smaller corps than the majority, with two horn players out through injuries and a lot of youngsters in.  The aim of the corps is to be focused back on public performance and experience for the members.  This season so far has seen them compete in BYBA, TYMBA and now DCUK, as well as over 15 public performances.  From this the community has fully adopted the corps and the recruitment process has started to kick in.  The issues for the Corps are mainly down to lack of confidence in their own ability-they have a show they can sell and they are capable of reaching goals they have not reached before.. At present stamina, confidence and performance are weak points. From the DM who is doing a very good job in keeping the Corps in time (as always members need to watch and listen back) to the Guard that is performing way beyond their age group and past lack of training - its a good future. Show wise - first half of show is strong, 2nd half needs work especially closer.  

Stafford Lancers-my sincere apologies didnít get to watch your show-but i do know there is lot to go in for the 2nd half so watch out for a resurgent Lancers in September.  

East Coast Elite-I like ECE they have always kept pretty much to their traditions-they tend to stick to a classical stance in productions and over the years have done some very good shows, this years again looks like a good one with lots of scope for improvement 2nd half.  Opening with some real sense of depth which then sees the Guard take centre stage - good focus point but really felt the Guard work was not strong enough to accent the musical phrasing at this time.  Good tempo control in 2nd number which was locked through using effective mood structures - spoilt a little by wavering horn control across the field.  I found the 3rd number a bit congested-perhaps the pushing forward of the Guard member could have been staged back further or the formation of a closing circle to sell that point. The ballad had some poignant tones and good clarity-again felt Guard could have really made more of the static point adding huge moves to fit the musical effects. Overall the show needs a little more emotional development.  These guys are always strong 2nd half so should be good to see then.  

Beeches-this Corps really fits production to size.  Its a very well written production in all aspects-visual sell point now works for me. Brass had a few hazy moments during the performance some balance and clarity issues - percussion work hard to keep all in a locked reference zone-especially some real nice pit moments that link well together with battery.  I would still put one person on Guard just to get a relative score that would allow the production to finish in the correct place for what is on offer.  Some dirt to clean but nothing to major, hope the corps maintains the high level of performance for 2nd half should win BYBA finals.  

Revolution-The way this group has progressed over the last few years is to say the least is excellent. High recruitment, solid financial base and part of their community. This is a well written show as many have said and fits the members perfectly.  The music and visual books are set at an acceptable standard which allows the corps to achieve good performance levels from show to show. The story line is easy to follow and there is some real quality in personal performance from the members in all sections. The weak points for me are in some of Guard work which at times could being more dramatic to fit phrasings etc and a couple of show point stagings like the battle scene could be staged to take up more of the arena to give a greater expansive feel.  Overall I really enjoyed this show because the members obviously do.  Overall a great show which again will be even better 2nd half.  

Interval good to catch up with more old friends and take in refreshments.  

37th Kingswood-starting well with mood set through voice over and some good staging-this is followed by some competent musical presence and some good locked in visual work enhanced by the guard portraying the story.  The pit even being mainly very young do a good job to back up the on field work in the opener.  Iím not sure how badly the 37th were affected by the weather after this as certainly felt the presence was weaker than at Woking-some of staging seemed weak and causing issues for the young horn line and found myself distracted by a lot of unclean work in both the guard work and the visual package, this also seemed to be a case in the musical book at times. While this caused a weaker overall picture it was also obvious that the corps are getting the production with far greater depth-as always I believe that the 37th will clean this production for the 2nd half with a high degree of proficiency-in terms of potential it could well take 4th place at finals.  In terms of entertainment this show is a real winner - easy to get music and easy to read show. Well done 37th on keeping the traditions strong.  

Cadence-Now an open age Corps backed up by constant recruitment through cadets and junior Corps-Cadence are a solid unit...certainly going in the right direction with off the field policies and looking good as they strengthen show wise year to year.  Their show Castaway is now taking on some real strength in both physical and emotive understanding.  I certainly found myself more drawn into the storyline.  Opening with the use of a single flag and box adorned with the Fed Ex logo to set the scene for the journey that lies ahead.  From this we had some real presence and strength being shown through the sections of the corps-did feel that some of guard work could have accented some of the front line rhythms to give even greater effect at times also everyone needs to hit set points to give full readability and reward in the process.  The black flag that is used at the end of the storm sequence works well as the corps disappear only to be left stranded on the island.  The bari-front line peace is still a lush spot in the production it has a warm expressive feel to it a real sale point in the production.  Did feel that the closer as is still lacked the drive from the rest of the show-stamina still an issue here, still lots to clean especially guard need to lock in transitions fully can be a little distracting. In all much more solid and I felt deserving of a bigger gap on the chasing pack.  

The Company-firstly thanks to the corps for taking the time to allow the Comets to watch your rehearsal and also for taking time to have a photo with them=very much appreciated by us all involved with the Comets.  It was a pleasure to watch a very well executed rehearsal, everyone was locked in and the staff ran the session like clock work-certainly a credit to the activity-on with the show-to the performance itself wow this has grown in the time period since Woking-all sections have certainly tided up and the performance level and understanding has had the bar raised to a higher level.  Iím still sensing some brass weakness due to the fast paced drill stamina will sort this 2nd half as will cleaning the dirt thats left exposed. The story line is great and the show is full on entertainment.  The extra little nuanceís now appearing just add to the storytelling and are a joy to watch and listen to.  Love this show its got winner written all over it.  

Kidsgrove Scouts-Enjoyed this show far more than Woking as didnít feel it had anything to prove to me. Musically this has some great balance and some real positives in the musical effect area. The theme passed through the show has become stronger and the members certainly seem to be fully buying into the product .I still believe there is room for more visual exposure and depth. Overall didnít think the performance was as strong as at Woking seemed a little tired.  What is obvious is how well this product fits the DCA circuit and with the practice going in and the help the Scouts will be getting in the USA this should do real well at DCA Finals  .Last time the Scout went to the States they came back with a much stronger product.  Can they go on and win DCE?  I reckon so-the tweaks to the show and the attitude of this great corps can take them to the promised land.  

And so ends the first half-Iíve had the satisfaction of attending 2 BYBA shows, 1 TYMBA show and 2 DCUK shows.   Iíve seen some great performances from British, Irish, Dutch and of course our very welcome friends from the Blue Devils International Corps.  On top of this Iíve seen the activity still offering what it always has - a outlet to be part of what we all know is very special.  

Finally to the Corps I help teach - the Comets PE - thanks to giving me the enthusiasm to carry on it really is a pleasure to watch this group grow each year while maintaining true family values.  

Have a great Summer one and all see you all in September

Report by Andy Hulburt


29th July 2015



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