It was Jellied eels, mash and liquor all over on Saturday 2nd December as Becontree re-connected with their East London roots and presented a lively programme at Barking Salvation Army with the Ripple Road Junior School choir. Given last years less than huge audience turn out at the Xmas concert in Woodford, there was some trepidation amongst the troops as the band waited to see what kind of crowd they would be playing too- but as they walked out onto stage it was pleasing to see a full house as the band settled down into that old classic “Christmas Joy“ . A well chosen programme was obviously biased towards a seasonal content (with "Gaudete!" being the major work), but other highlights included “Riverdance”, “A Disney Fantasy” and a sparkling opening to the second half with Ray Farr’s arrangement of “Toccata in D minor”. As always , the programme gave the soloists a chance to do their thing, and the night marked Kathryn Green's debut as principal cornet with a lyrical rendition of “Rusalka’s song to the moon”. Alan Flower sparkled in Douglas Court’s intricate arrangement of “Ding Dong” and Chris Bailey once again demonstrated his mastery of the idiom in a bluesy sounding “Silent Night”. This was the night we bade goodbye to David Howell on Solo Horn and after being appropriately “bigged up” by MD Graeme Sheldon a faultless rendition of “In the bleak midwinter” followed. Audience participation was provided for in the form of several Christmas Carols, and the participation of the choir bought a real touch of something special to the night. A word from the Corps Officer, Major Nigel Schultz, allowed everyone present to reflect on the true meaning of the season as well. It was an emotional night for the band as they said farewell to MD Graeme Sheldon and a presentation was made during the afternoon to him . Plans are already afoot for a repeat performance of the concert next year . P.A-H.