The First Shoot begins with a spirited movement which sets the tone immediately in 1930s vaudeville, cabaret style. The melody lines are fragmented to provide answering phrases, particularly in the Cornet section. The second movement takes the form of a sauntering, soft-shoe shuffle. The third and fourth movements run continuously, curiously in three sections: a ‘hesitation’ waltz and an anglicised ‘can-can’, followed by a close relation of ‘Popular Song’ from Façade. The waltz is one of the most attractive sections of the work, lightly scored and of real charm. The ‘can-can’ which follows is the most technically difficult of the five movements; neat triple-tonguing is required and neater fingers. It leads without a break to the ‘popular song’—Walton at his most droll. The final movement is a hurly-burly, boisterous circus-style march.
As originally published in 1986 the score lies rather high in tessitura for the Cornets; keys, too, are awkward. A downward transposition of a tone may reduce the brilliance of the sound, but is much more practical for most bands. This performing edition has been duly transposed with adjustments (chiefly octave displacements) made by Elgar Howarth where necessary. It was first performed in this new version by the Fairey Band conducted by Philip Chalk at the Royal Northern Festival of Brass on 1 February 2009.