(HD video) Here comes the rain again . . . highlights from Piping Live! Day 4
“The forecast’s nae looking tae guid,” was the phrase on the mouths of those who speak, or try to speak, with the local accent, as the Wednesday at the Piping Live! Glasgow International Festival of Piping – Day 4 – saw a warm and sunny morning gradually turn overcast and then give way to showers by 4 pm.
Not to worry, as the festival continued apace with a full slate of programing at and around the National Piping Centre, starting with the launch of Our Journey, an ambitious hard-bound book written and compiled by James Laughlin, leading-drummer of New Zealand’s Grade 1 Canterbury Caledonian. The book, perfect for coffee tables everywhere at a cool £40, profiles leading exponents of the pipe band craft, and gives the folk proper due in a premium product. Gold Medallist Euan MacCrimmon gave the Street Café gathering a few tunes for the occasion.
At noon Piping Live! regulars The Armagh Pipers took the Café stage and tossed off their usual effortless and rhythmical gems from the Emerald Isle before an appreciative crowd.
At 1 pm in the National Piping Centre Auditorium was the daily recital. This year Piping Live! is pairing prominent and similar players, injecting new variety into this festival staple. Yesterday were young Callum Beaumont and Alex Gandy, and today it was the turn of two more established legends, with Gordon Walker and Angus MacColl packing them in.
Both were in great form, and it was Walker who was at the peak of his always-great game, playing an flawless pipe with drones touched maybe once early on and then simply locked down solid, even after the minute or two intervals where Walker paused for a drink of water and a chat about the tunes, many of which were his own compositions. As is his military wont, Walker played for exactly 30 minutes, before giving over the stage to MacColl.
Angus MacColl was in equally top-form, and his half-hour set comprised a much more familiar and traditional approach, with a heavy accent on competition style marches, strathspey and reels, including several tunes from the John MacColl repertory. A piper must pay homage to his great uncle, after all.
Round three of Pipe Idol started up just as the launch of Blueprint a new collection of music by the Treacherous Orchestra, one of the hottest Celtic folk acts going, anchored by the piping of Ali Hutton and Ross Ainslie. The four in this Pipe Idol round were Alexander Levack, Ailis Sutherland, Alex Jeanrenand and Andrew Donlan, with Levack going to the Friday Final.
By now the rain was on and off, leaving in doubt whether Dowco-Triumph Street would weather the weather at 5:30, but the rain held off and the band played. These “practices” at the National Piping Centre are really full-on performances, with bands taking an hour to tune on the street off to the side before making their way to play in front of the NPC, all the great effect. Triumph Street was in fine form at this session, and they seem to have some buzz with some thinking that two British Columbia bands could make the top-six this year.
A few hurried pies and chips and pints before heading to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall for one of the marquee events of Piping Live! – the annual Pre-World’s Concert, this year from Inveraray & District, a band whose eight-year rocket to stardom is well documented, but no less awe-inspiring. “Ascension” indeed as the day’s festivities rose to come inside for the sold out show, complete with scalpers on the street, sounding very much like pipe bands recruiting members for the World’s: “Who’s buying? Who’s selling?”
Thursday looks like more rain, then the forecast says sun for Friday, and then some big, hairy, dark clouds for the weekend.
Falling on our heads like a memory.