Toronto Police pack them in at el Mocambo concert in downtown Toronto
In its 160 years as a music club, Toronto el Mocambo Tavern has probably never had a pipe band stage a concert, but that changed when the Grade 1 Toronto Police played to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 people in the same room that has hosted The Rolling Stones, U2 and Elvis Costello. The band unveiled much new material, including its latest medley for competition, “Gallus No. 3.”
The two-hour show was recorded with the intention of releasing a compact disc in the fall, and the audience was encouraged to make noise and be a part of the event. The enthusiastic crowd responded, and the atmosphere was more like a beer-tent than the more familiar formal full pipe band concert with its usual seated, hyper-critical audience analyzing every note.
Perhaps the most anticipated piece that the band played was its new medley, entitles “Gallus No. 3,” which is the third in the line of the band’s avant-garde selections that have provoked lvely debate in the pipe band world. The new medley was saved for last, and the alcohol-fueled audience reacted enthusiastically to the piece.
The band played with relatively smaller sections for Grade 1, with 13 pipers, five snare drummers, three tenor drummers and two bass drummers – the two basses seemingly an emerging trend in top-level pipe bands this year, with other bands said to also be coming out with a bass duo.
“I have seen the future of pipe band shows, and this is it,” said one piper, a veteran of many concerts, who attended the Toronto Police show and asked that his name be omitted from his comment.
The playlist comprised a wide variety of material, including the two previous Toronto Police competition medleys, “Variations on a Theme of Good Intentions” and “Idiomatica;” Breton selections; a drum fanfare; pipe solos by Pipe-Major Ian K. MacDonald and Pipe-Sergeant Michael Grey. There were no MSRs and the only traditional set was a cleverly arranged group of John McLellan, Dunoon, 3/4 marches played at a spirited and lively pace.
By the last third of the show the crowd had thinned slightly, suggesting that a good portion of the original attendees were non-pipe band people who happened upon the event and investigated the new musical experience.