May 31, 2010

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.


  1. Wow. I really like the concert approach. Somany good performances happen when are bands are in a more relaxed atmosphere. I really like this medley too. It keeps that innovative touch that Torontos been at but seems (to me) to still have a more traditional” style

  2. Thanks for your caring comment masonsapron (I’m sure the Mason’s organization appreciate people like you taking on their a man’s a man for a’ that” moniker) but we’re really more concerned about helping people the world over spell the word rhythm. Sorry I can’t write more

  3. I am at such a quandary about Toronto’s approach to pipe band music. I appreciate what Toronto is doing with taking traditional pipe music and expanding the usual boundaries. It does sound like “Gallus #3” is somewhat of a compromise between “Idiomatica;” and a standard pipe band melody. I think we as the piping community have to be a bit more supportive of our art. I personally prefer more of the traditional medley

  4. But somebody has to make them realize that a bunch of repetative notes written to a rythym doesn’t necessarily make it a tune. ” A couple of things jumped out here. If this was sports

  5. Great band ! But somebody has to make them realize that a bunch of repetative notes written to a rythym doesn’t necessarily make it a tune.

  6. Really enjoyed listeining to that. If anything I wanted less ‘tune’ and more just ‘sounds’- ie. much more avant garde but there would probably be no audience if you did that! I wanted to stop these people talking so I could hear better, but I realise the nature of the event was such that they were meant to be talking! I’m just saying I think, that if I’d been them, I’d have found it impossible to talk, for listening.

  7. I thought this concert was alot of fun and nice to be in such a relaxed atmosphere, at least inside of this club outside a bit sketchy, great to see alot of old friends and I thought the Toronto Police put on a great show. good luck this summer guys. The reggae downstairs was pretty good as well. Steve T

  8. I’m starting to look forward to a new medley like this every year! Love it and would like to hear more. I still think the first one was my favorite, but maybe if I could hear this one unfettered….

  9. I’m always astounded when some people claim to hate U2, there’s no accounting for some people’s taste in what they want to listen to. Lady Gaga, lets get real! Good music will stand the test of time and we’ll see who adopts any of Micheal’s material or will it be just a flash in the pan experiment? Many people thought the Mason’s Apron was a daring piece when first introduced by some bands in the 70’s, but 30 years later a top band in the world is still playing it. Really like the concert format, wasted many an afternoon in there too!

  10. Regardless of personal opinion towards the compositions played by TPPB, at least they did the sensible thing and played them in a concert setting vs a competition field. Kudos to that…



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