Amidst the controversial decision by Emily Eavis to headline Jay-Z at Glastonbury Festival in 2008, in which included Noel Gallagher throwing his toys from his pram, while UK press went on a bender about an imagined ethos of exactly what Glasto is, and what it should be presenting, I read an American article hitting back with the headline “is Glastonbury big enough for Jay Z?”
One has to ponder if the author who penned such piffle in retaliation had ever seen Glastonbury, let alone been, and had any inkling what it means to so many people. On this basis I thought of, but then rejected, this headline to be “is Devizes big enough for the Full-Tone Orchestra?!”
Organiser and better half of the composer, Jemma Brown tells me the capacity of the Green is 3,000 but next weekend’s (28th-29th August) event is restricted to half, “so everyone feels safe.” But, it’s not a question of “is Devizes big enough for the Full-Tone Orchestra,” rather our fortunate premise, the Full-Tone Orchestra is now a part of Devizes, no less than the brewery or canal. They’ve ventured to other local towns, Marlborough College, Swindon’s Wyvern, to present their eclectic genre orchestra, but Devizes is home sweet home, and 95% of shows have been based here.
Here’s the biting point, and something I’ve come to understand better, staging such an event like this is not pocket money. Yes, Full-Tone successfully crowdfunded to put on a free show in the Market Place in 2019, but this is not an avenue any event organiser can slog and expect to come up trumps each time.
For an entertainment package as stupendous as Full-Tone to be in our humble dwelling, it needs and deserves our support, and while a majority will tell you so on the street, ears to the ground unearth some rather inexcusable and inappropriate notions. Firstly, you cannot expect anyone to provide you a free show annually, just because they did once before, and secondly, it’s an “erm,” to the idea Full-Tone is some kind of commercial enterprise gaining only to profit. “It’s just not why we’re doing it,” Jemma pledges, “we’re doing it to bring an orchestra into the centre of Devizes and for the love of all things music!”
At this conjunction, just one weekend away from the show, you have to ask yourself, would the same level of display as 2019’s Market Place not become tiresomely samey after a while? Full-Tone wish to expand on the experience, to progress and make it better. “The sound and lighting will be fabulous and to do that we have to pay good dollar!” Jemma tells me, and to do such, ticket sales is the only option.
Phew, glad I got that off my chest! Can we all be friends again? Anyone putting on any event right now needs our backing and deserves a medal, in my honest opinion. Anyone organising an event must worry it’s either going to go two ways, overloaded with a cabin-fevered raging mob or fail to impress enough to drag apprehensive troops out from their lockdown shelters, as if the hospitality industry isn’t it in enough deep water. My chat with Jemma today went onto me mentioning a time I was juggling the attention of three gigs in Devizes in one night; a time we took live music for granted, and looking back now, well, you go figure.
Least we can be sure, unlike Emily Eavis and her longing to update her father’s institution, Noel Gallagher won’t be on a wobbler because an upcoming US hip hop star is upstaging him! 28th-29th August sees the sixty-piece Full-Tone Orchestra present a very local affair, not only their all-encompassing themes, from big band and film scores to euphoric dance anthems, but Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats, jazz singer Archie Combe and The Red Bandits on Sunday.
It’s been some years since I sat in Rowde School after school hours. No, not like a kid in detention, rather to see the orchestra rehearsing the Star Wars theme. I believe Jemma was encouraging me to direct my satirical rant column from Index;Wiltshire, No Surprises Living in Devizes to more positive pastures, which kind of went totally against the concept of the column. But it was running fast out of ammo, because, underneath it all, Devizes is a great town and I love living here.
Hence, Devizine was born, a sort of counter-strike against all the negativity I once brushed Devizes with. So, if you want to blame someone, Jemma is also an accessory! The icing on that cake will be a Devizes rendezvous on the Green; hope to see you there!
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