Forget chestnuts roasting on an open fire (think of the health and safety risks!), forget finding you’ve just missed the last of this year’s must-have presents in the shops, the season to be jolly is never really officially here until Poulton Band has struck up the opening notes of its annual Christmas Concert at Blackpool Grand Theatre.
Four years into an annual residency and the concert already seems a traditional part of the Fylde coast’s festivities, packing the theatre with its mixture of old favourites, singalong carols and adventurous arrangements from the brass band canon.
There’s something delightfully and uniquely British about the occasion, musical director Gareth Westwood conducting the all-age ensemble through its paces, Father Geoffery Bottoms leading the community singing and revealing a penchant for sometimes surprisingly risque jokes in a Father Ted Does Stand Up style, and the audience joining in with gusto when invited to.
Despite its Christmas banner the programme is adventurously varied – opening with a Salvation Army march (The Carollers) and a Gordon Langford montage of traditional carols (A Carol Fantasy), before venturing into poppier items such as Jona Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry, Wham’s Last Christmas and Love Actually’s All I Want For Christmas Is You.
There are plenty of classics too plus John Rutter’s Candlelight Carol, Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival, a Santa Claus Medley and a fascinating fusion of Bolero with The Holly and the Ivy.
A barbershop quartet added yet more variety to the programme and variations on the theme of We Three KIngs revealed just why and how the band has remained such a multi-award-winning outfit throughout its 138-year history.