FULL houses at each of the events last weekend at Ilkley Playhouse saw audiences really getting into the swing.

On Friday, the Rob Dylan Band paid homage to their icon with an energetic performance covering many of the the major tracks. Their “rolling thunder” approach found an echo with the Wildman public only too happy to sing along. Dylan the rocker came to life more than Dylan the poet and balladeer, and the band’s musical and instrumental versatility was impressive.

The same venue on Saturday evening generated – if possible – even more energy with Soul Train. Here singing and dancing were both on the menu. The audience went rapidly from dancing in their seats to dancing in the streets – well, the aisles... At half time chairs were cleared away to allow their participation full rein and they made the most of it. Both events benefitted from the warm spontaneity of lead singers and the generosity of band members to each other when it came to vocal and instrumental solos.

In between, on Saturday afternoon, anyone who wandered up to Saint Margaret’s church to look at the beautiful display of Christmas trees, with their moving and inventive slogans, was musically entertained as well. The Ilkley Singers gave lovely a cappella renditions of Christmas favourites from at home and abroad and were followed by an off-the-wall quartet, entitled May Contain Notes, in interesting jumpers. The lead singer – apparently a very tall elf until he shed the said jumper – and his colleagues ranged over Russian, Finnish, English and other tongues in a totally inclusive performance.

It culminated with a distribution of percussion instruments to the delight of the audience, enthusiastically shaking, rattling and rolling. Shortly afterwards, back down on the Grove, the lights went on and Christmas 2019 was officially open!

Judith Dunn