Miller classics get us all in the mood!


Civic Theatre

What is it about the timeless sound of a big band?

The moment an orchestra strikes up with a well-known tune the audience instantly relaxes and gets in the mood.

That last phrase in itself gives more than a clue about the style of the superb sound produced by the Nick Ross Orchestra who played to a packed Doncaster Civic last Saturday night.

Having not seen this particular band before, it was extremely pleasant when, after a brief introduction by conductor Mr. Ross himself the sixteen gents (and one lady) of this talented group of musicians struck up with a selection of memory jogging, easy listening tunes of the one and only Glenn Miller.

The word legend is used perhaps a little too much these days but there can surely be no-one who doesn’t know about this great band leader. Even younger folk, if they aren’t exactly ardent fans will have heard enough of his memorable music to hum, tap, clap or even sing along with snippets of his famous numbers.

All those activities were evident in abundance at Saturday night’s concert which attracted what I call a genuine full house at the Doncaster theatre.

In fact, looking around I couldn’t see any spare seats and the crowd participation and mass exit for refreshments during the interval seemed as if it could stretch the Civic staff to their limits, but they handled it all admirably.

We were treated to some of the great man’s best known offerings, including Pennsylvania 65000, String of Pearls, Moonlight Serenade, American Patrol and the wonderfully titled It Must Be Jelly Cause Jam Don’t Shake Like That! which caused a titter or two among the unitiated.

The orchestra is made up of extremely talented musicians, no weak links at all and it’s perhaps wrong to single out one performer, but the drummer was a revelation, he held the whole ensemble together, did a very well received drum solo and made some incredibly intricate moves look very ordinary - now that’s real talent.

A couple of songs from a lovely young lady called Alice Coulam and one or two from one time veteran of the Syd Lawrence Orchestra Ray Marsden split the evening up and they even slipped a little humour into the performance when the trombonists exited the stage to appear and stroll purposefully up and down the aisles, still gently playing and coming up close and personal with the audience who loved the experience.

There was much finger movement, gentle foot tapping and muffled clapping (us youthfully challenged folk don’t go in for headbanging and screaming much these days!).

All in all an extremely pleasant evening’s entertainment and I doubt anyone could will disagree that the streets of Doncaster reverberated to the sounds and sights (yes, the forties fashions were evident on the night) until a happy crowd dispersed, perhaps the only thing missing was the steady drone of a bomber overhead - now wouldn’t that have been something!

* Barry Crabtree