Wakefield Ridings Centre Yorks Air Ambulance 1st Dec 2023

Wakeylele Band. Ridings Centre Wakefield Dec 2023 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Wakeylele Band of Great Britain Wows the Ridings

by Phil Barr. Photo and Videos Jane Barr

With Wakefield surprisingly in the iron grip of winter, there was no better antidote than the comforting sight of the Wakeylele band assembling outside Marks and Spencer’s in the Ridings, dressed for the large part in their festive outfits with sweaters featuring reindeer being the clear winners. Chris in particular appeared to have brought a wardrobe of extras with him as he interchanged antlers with a mini – umbrella to match a particular song, closely followed by Dave F with Malcolm also looking the part in a colourful jumper and a bah -humbug woolly hat. Magz (not Roy’s Mags) meanwhile probably stole the show with her knitted multi – coloured embossed reindeer design but there were numerous others I could mention;(see videos). David, meanwhile, brought a semblance of sobriety to proceedings by adopting a subtle Van Morrison look: it should also be added that he wore a pensive look as 11 o clock fast approached with around five members of the band missing; however, all made it with Richard being the last in place. Anyone who got round to reading the last gig report may remember that Richard had to extricate himself from a deep trench in his garden; this time he had found himself in a fix following a leaking radiator and then nearly putting his hand through a loft ceiling light fitting. Roy meanwhile, only managed to make it on time by parking in the nearby Quaker car park on the flimsy claim that he likes porridge. 

So, after a brief sound check, (the exact opposite of this rambling introduction) we were off and live with David’s arrangement of Side by Side again proving a hit with the expectant onlookers as was Chas and Dave’s number. From then the programme consisted of alternating Christmas/ Seasonal numbers with the usual eclectic mix with the band showing a level of confidence which reflected the effort everyone puts into practices both at club sessions and at home. Bambino, Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Christmas Song and Feliz Navidad all seemed to work, providing the passing and pausing public with free entertainment as they turned over what to buy for their loved ones. Mind you, it wasn’t all sweetness and light for the band because despite being wrapped in swaddling clothes their finger – ends were being severely tested by the cold and frostbite and gangrene were only kept at bay by Maria yet again distributing tea – bag like handwarmers around the group. This kind gesture along with a break enabled the band to regroup and recover their full faculties.

Some of the band made for the nearby Grind cafe but the long queue meant it was a bit of a bind instead! Incidentally, whilst queuing, Stuart pointed out a bit of ironic pop trivia: Chris Rea got to number one in the charts some time ago with Coming Home for Christmas; a year later he repeated his success but this time with The Road to Hell. 

Back in the real world, Wakeylele launched enthusiastically into the second half with a string of oldies and slightly newer oldies, festive and otherwise including the well-honed On the Road Again – here, David, with a knowing grin and a heads-up gesture led us into the song, resulting in lots of smiling faces and the best reception of the day. Point proved – a shame that it wasn’t captured on video but our film crew has to be selective. Slade’s tricky festive number seemed to go quite well and some shoppers joined in with the plaintive Silent Night with Pop starring on the harmonica after a brief hiccup was overcome.

Completing the Christmassy theme there was a jolly rendition of Winter Wonderland and to finish the obligatory We Wish You a Happy Christmas. Throughout the performance Mags did her usual excellent job of keeping the band in time as did Val on bass, while Dave Burgess and Pop provided amplification on the mikes, the latter also acting as a smooth compere – Val Doonican would have been either impressed or jealous and of course he referred to us as WB of GB as in the title of this piece which was a hoot. Finally, thank you to the Yorkshire Ambulance staff, kind, enthusiastic and supportive as always, to Mike H* for arranging the gig, to Jane for the videos and last but not least to David for making these happy and satisfying events possible. 

The final gig this year is next Friday at Wentbridge House Hotel – final details to come soon.  

* Talking of Mikes, I’m sure that everyone wishes Mike S a swift recovery so that he can rejoin us early in the New Year.

3 Comments on “Wakefield Ridings Centre Yorks Air Ambulance 1st Dec 2023

  1. Another fine piece of reporting by the Barr family! Thank you for the time and trouble in capturing the moment.
    Can anyone remember a Wakeylele gig when we were neither red hot nor freezing cold or as Goldilocks would say…… “Just right?”
    Once again battling bafflingly-low Ridings temperatures, our fortitude was put sorely to the test. However, thanks to the squashed seating arrangements (but more likely the plethora of winter woolies and Maria’s hand warmers) the musical output seemed to suffer not one jot.
    Again I am truly indebted to everyone involved in this latest installment of “The WB of GB” rise to stardom.
    Now …… if we could only have drinks delivered at half-time!

  2. Thank you David and Phil and everyone In the band l thought it was a great gig and l think we did ourselves proud thanks David for keeping us on course 👍😊

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