REVIEW: Passadena Roof Orchestra - Grand Theatre,

The Pasadena Roof Orchestra
The Pasadena Roof Orchestra
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What a cracking, joyful night of music.

Not many bands can get an entire audience tapping their feet within seconds of striking up a tune. But you can’t help yourself.

The moment the 10-piece orchestra (three-strong brass section, three-piece woodwind section, piano, double bass, guitar/ukelele and drums) walk on from the wings, sit down and start belting out some of the best songs from the 1920s and 30s, you’re hooked.

What helps is the standard of musicianship. All can play their instrument superbly and the arrangement of each song has been worked out to the last exact detail, which ensures every song remains lively and interesting to the end (each member of the brass section, for instance, often taking turns to play an increasingly complicated solo mid-song). There wasn’t so much as one bum note all night.

Band leader Duncan Galloway has the job of introducing each number, then glides to the side of the stage and looks on as the band do their stuff. He’ll then stroll back to the front to supply the vocals for the non-instrumental tunes, the pick of which for me was a fine version of Irving Berlin’s 1929 classic Puttin’ on the Ritz.

The band make sure there are lighter moments too with some nice, if occasionally dated banter, between songs.

The majority of the audience are aged 50-plus and lap it up. You can hear everyone humming along throughout, and singing out loud during a George Formby section which ends with a rousing rendition of When I’m Cleaning Windows.

The evening is a very pleasant stroll down memory lane and it is important that someone is keeping these old but wonderful tunes alive, and brings them to a new audience.

The Pasadena Roof Orchestra have been going since 1969, touring the UK and Germany on a regular basis. They deserve their success and are highly accomplished in what they do. Long may the music continue.