Sunday, 22 August 2010

Brass Polish

Not having had previous exposure to this group, I spotted one of the lederhosen-clad soloists in the bar before the performance. ‘What part of Bavaria are you from?’ I asked in all innocence. ‘Fulham’, he replied.

Part of the wise and worthy ‘Five Pound Fringe’, Oompah Brass’s “A to Z of Oompah” can be found in the GRV venue, on the back steps behind C Venues in Chambers Street.

It’s a gem.

Two trumpets, a trombone, a French horn and a tuba form a band not know for its lullaby potential, indeed their proud boast is that people in the front two rows may regret sitting so close. But there’s plenty of subtlety in their musical arrangements and in the virtuosity of each member: it’s extremely hard to coax high clear and sharp notes from a trumpet, or to make a tuba play the lead line of a complicated melody, but these guys (and one girl) just laugh it off.

Apart from ‘Do you play the Trumpet Voluntary?’ ‘No, only for money.’ there’s scarcely a corny pun or old musical joke not explored in the commentary between the songs, but it’s delivered with such natural charm by Oompah founder Nathan Gash and particularly by the handsome trombonist Patrick Johns who had all the ladies in the audience, and a couple of curious men, swooning when he shoved the bell end of his instrument in their faces.

In their random alphabet, they cover everything from Bach to Megadeath but the focus is on recognizable rock and pop thrashers they can serve up with a Bavarian twist.

They’re all music teachers, but performers at heart since the energy and enthusiasm of the show is infectious, you just want to join in – and at the end, in ‘the greatest pop song ever written’ you get your chance in their brilliant climax. Just make sure you know ALL the words to Bohemian Rhapsody.


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