August 31, 2012

(HD video) Piping Live! 2012, Day 4: Squeaky bum time begins

Thursday before the World’s, and Piping Live! suddenly has a little more tension in the sun-soaked air, with the stark reality of the World Championships on Saturday settling in: “Squeaky bum time,” as one former Grade 1 pipe-major liked to call that feeling of apprehension when a major event is dawning.

But the glorious weather continued apace, with no sign of change until Sunday, which is of course exceptional news for this city, the Festival and the World’s overall, as all are due for a fine day straight through. “Sun cream” is in high demand at the chemists, and there are many a sunburned face on bandsmen and women from abroad who perhaps neglected to pack sunscreen, perhaps all extra space in the luggage taken up by more reliable needs, like brollies and capes.

The day started with the Grade 1 Bagad Cap Caval of Brittany playing at George Square at 11 resplendent in their trousers and waistcoats, perhaps the least colourful pipe band at the festival, and then followed at noon by the Oban High School Pipe Band, one of the up-and-coming outfits on the Scottish scene. Led by Pipe-Major Angus MacColl, the band has made a mark in its seven-year existence.

(Speaking of George Square, with so many bands performing, things are bound to go get lost. A faithful pipes|drums reader found an engraved silver ring cap from a set of pipes. If you know who it belongs to, drop us a line and we’ll put you in touch with the person who has it.)

One of the more unusual competitions at Piping Live! was the Clan MacLean Quaich, held in conjunction with the organization’s launch of a collection of MacLean-related pipe tunes. The piobaireachd contest at the National Piping Centre showcased compositions with “MacLean” in the title, and three of the four players delivered the three different “MacLeans’ Gathering”s (who’d have known?), including the winner, Brian Donaldson. Bruce Gandy, Callum Beaumont and Simon McKerrell also competed.

pipes|drums was invited to a special reception at the Glasgow City Chambers – a massive and exquisite Victorian pile of marble and mahogany just off of George Square – where the Lord Provost of the city welcomed sponsors and those tied with the event. Piping Live! Director Roddy MacLeod said a few words. It’s clear just how much the festival means to the city in terms of art support and tourist revenue.

The day continued with Heat Four of Pipe Idol, where Angus MacColl Jr. was chosen by another “secret” panel of judges (lots of these at Piping Live!) to go through to the final on Friday. MacColl will compete against David Shedden, Connor Sinclair and Andrew Clark, who is an alternate for Heat One winner Graham Drummond. Drummond opted out of the final in favour of a practice with his band, Field Marshal Montgomery. Quite right. Must keep the pipe-major happy – even when there’s a set of Fred Morrison Reelpipes as the grand prize.


Thursday was very much a day of Breton piping, with a quartet from Bagad Brieg performing earlier in the afternoon, and then Bagad Cap Caval held a 6 pm practice at the National Piping Centre. These full band practices always attract a large crowd, and when the sun shines, it’s a positive crush. Great atmosphere.


The night presented a good problem to have: three great events coinciding, with the Blazing Strings fiddle concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the Pipes of Peace Concert with Field Marshal Montgomery, Dowco-Triumph Street and City of Dunedin at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, and, of course, perhaps the most famous solo piping event of the festival, the Lord Todd Bar Recital Challenge at the University of Strathclyde. After a round of rock, paper, scissors, the last option won out, so we made our way to the Todd to join a buoyant throng enjoying a few libations and listening to the immaculate stylings of Chris Armstrong, Angus MacColl (Sr.), Niall Stewart and, the eventual winner, Gordon Walker. All were in great form, but when Walker is on, he is really on, and was a popular winner with both the crowd and his fellow competitors, each of whom of course got to hear his performance. Spell-binding stuff.

The patio at the Todd was packed in the warm evening, and the beverages flowed into the morning, before the dawn of the final full day of Piping Live! which will feature the Pipe Idol final and a number of events related to the life and work of the late great Donald MacLeod, with recitals, talks and a celebration to end the day.

Friday is sure to be a rather more sober affair, pipe-majors and leading-drummers issuing orders to their players along the lines of, “If you have a drink, don’t bother $#%& turning up on Saturday ’cause you ain’t ^%$& playing.” You can add your own favourite expletives.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for more from Piping Live! and, of course, news from the World Pipe Band Championships.




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