A whistle-stop tour of DUBB on Tour 

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As one of ’s (DUBB’s) few resident Humanities students, it was only right for me to write about our recent UK tour organised by our lovely President who, along with the rest of our exec, organised the continuation of DUBB’s long-standing “pizza tour”, where the band ventures around the UK – most notably performing in Soho’s Pizza Express Live Jazz Club. 

The tour started with some last-minute snack trips to Dunelm as we waited for everyone to make it to the SU on time (some earlier than others) and was swiftly followed by a 6 hour coach trip to Oxford. Not two minutes into the bus journey, one of our trumpet players, Naim Wermes, took it upon himself to kick off the trip with a rendition of the 12/8 10/8 clapping rhythm of one of the pieces on our set – The First Circle. Despite a broken heating system and some games of “fake court”, we made it to Magdalen intact. 

Once there, we were met by our wonderful hosts in Oxford University Jazz Orchestra (OUJO), had our first tour soundcheck and played through some of our pieces, and got a feel for the venue. Here we were greeted with our first round of pizzas, provided by OUJO, as we got a taste of their set while they took their turn in the soundcheck. Across the next few hours, our bands played to a sold-out venue, and after the show we took to the local pub for a chance to get to know the OUJO players. Around midnight, we packed up and got some rest in preparation for the 6am start the following morning. 

The next day kicked off with some homemade apple juice from Liberty’s parents and some walks of shame as some sleep-deprived group members slept through their alarms and were late for the bus. This was nothing several coffees and copious amounts of pizza couldn’t fix, and we arrived at Pizza Express at 11AM. Our sound check kicked off immediately, and despite some issues with trying to find a place onstage for our congas, it went smoothly. With a regular pizzeria upstairs and a speakeasy-style jazz club in the basement, the venue was incredible, and once again, sold out. Running on adrenaline, anticipating our performance that we had been prepping for all year, we got ready and were graced with yet another batch of free pizzas (this time courtesy of Pizza Express). We took some group photos outside the venue and thanks to Athena Odysseos-Suther, we were able to have pictures taken during the performance as well.

The room, packed with friends, family and alumni, was buzzing – and apart from a singular moment of heckling where someone we are yet to identify shouted “I wish I’d gone to Durham”, all went as planned

We were truly delighted with the gig (my personal favourite moment being an exceptionally speedy rendition of Bill Ashton’s Heat of the Moment).

After packing up and saying goodbye to everyone that made their way to Soho to watch our gig, the band spent the rest of the evening getting to know some DUBB alumni. Alex Wardill, the previous DUBB Musical Director, came to watch both of our London shows; very kindly filming our Soho gig and taking photos of our Guildhall gig for us.  For many, this was a chance to meet with old friends. For myself and a few other DUBB members that were new to the tour, it was a wonderful evening spent getting to know other people that were also incredibly passionate about DUBB during their time at Durham, several of whom had gone on to pursue music. 

The group split up in the evening to get some rest at various DUBB parents’ houses. A few others and I headed back to Ed’s, where his parents made us curry for dinner. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to stay awake long past half ten, and we got some much-needed sleep in preparation for our final gig with Imperial College Big Band (ICBB), hosted by Guildhall School of Music and Drama the next day. 

Our final gig was in the evening, and we spent the morning getting coffee, packing, and doing our final tour soundcheck. There we met the incredible musicians in ICBB, and were once again treated to complimentary pizzas. Our set was first, followed by ICBB.  We finished off with a collaborative number as our bands crammed the stage, doubling up on instruments in a rendition of Soul Bossa Nova. Because we had to catch the coach, we only had a few minutes to meet the members of ICBB, but it was so wonderful getting to see them perform, and they were such lovely hosts. 

Everyone, ecstatic but feeling a preemptive nostalgia, boarded the coach and made their way back to Durham. Our return was filled with heartfelt speeches from finalists, freshers and exec members – all unbelievably proud of how hard everyone had worked and how amazingly the band had performed – along with intermittent naps as we only arrived back to Durham in the early hours of the morning. At the risk of being incredibly sappy, I must admit that I cannot begin to express what an honour it was and is to perform with this group of people. Everyone in DUBB is so unbelievably skilled, and a mere article will not do the joys of this tour justice. It has been one of my most memorable and cherished memories at Durham, and I can confidently say that auditioning for DUBB was one of the best decisions I made in second year. While of course I am incredibly biassed, I urge you to have a peek at our Instagram (@dubigband) or Facebook (@durhamuni.bigband) for any of our upcoming gigs.

Image Credits: Alex Wardill (top), Athena Odysseos-Suther (bottom)

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