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Newbury kicks off Spring Festivities with big Bollywood bash

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Newbury Spring Festival: Bollywood Brass Band at the Corn Exchange on Saturday, May 7. Review by NIKI HINMAN

The Bollywood Brass Band had the crowd at Newbury’s Corn Exchange swinging in their seats on the festival’s opening night.

Driven on by a dhol, the double-sided Punjabi barrel drum, the audience tested the rivets holding down the rows, with much seat-dancing and hand-clapping, before they were finally encouraged on their feet towards the end of the second half.

Bollywood Brass Band picture Nick Cattermole
Bollywood Brass Band picture Nick Cattermole

The band describe themselves as an Indian wedding band.

They would certainly get Aunty Mabel up on her feet and away from the fondant fancies – and the music, a mixture of bhangra and Bollywood classics, brings a big smile and an irresistable urge to bust some moves.

BBB celebrate the music of RD Burman – the master of 70s and 80s funky Bollywood soundtracks – with video projections from the original Bollywood films.

The film clips are utterly transfixing and at times frankly bizarre.

The dancing Cleopatras with some rather out of shape Egyptian slaves routine was certainly ‘out there’.

Another, where the lead female dancer, who are in most of the clips scantily clad and generally leered at by fully-clothed slightly sleazy looking blokes, actually did a swimming backstroke dance while lying on the floor.

This could have the whole nation rolling up the rugs on the kitchen floor to give it a go.

AR Rahman’s Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire picked up the pace in the more lively second half and while fabulous, was the only piece that could have gone to the next level with a vocal boost.

Hats go off to Jasminder Daffu and Rav Neiyyar doubling up on the dhol drums to lift the pace in the second act. And the dualing trombones of Sara Mann and Dave Jago brought some fun.

But the star of the show among some remarkable musicianship goes to Sarha Moore on the soprano saxophone – which played the part of many of the vocals, and brought the British-ness of the brass band sound into Bollywood.

This is a fun, exuberant and charming performance which might be even more fun if seen and enjoyed in a more intimate venue – with a dance floor!

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