Ready and able
“Nous Sommes Prêts”
Simon Fraser University Pipe Band
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Glasgow, August 12, 2015
Reviewed by Neil Nicholson
Billed as Nous Sommes Prêts (We Are Ready), the annual Pre-World’s Concert proved a great opportunity to hear one of our world-class bands stretch itself outside the competition ring. Those looking to enjoy a great mix of familiar traditional tunes as well as some newer pieces tastefully arranged could not be disappointed. SFU are no strangers to the stage and they made that patently clear tonight: almost three hours, including interval, passed in a flash.
To those looking to critique the readiness of the band to challenge for the places this weekend, through the finer details of tuning and finger/stick dexterity you may have come away disappointed. The Pre-World’s Concert should not be about that.
The acoustical limitations of the venue coupled with a repertoire front-end biased with a backing group made it difficult to assess the competition readiness of the band. I viewed the first half of the concert close to the left of the stage on the balcony, with the second half standing at the rear of the hall. The second half for me was much the stronger and, for that, more enjoyable. The clear, strong sound carried right to the rear of the hall. I do think this was partly the improved acoustics, but felt the band’s performance grew in strength and poise as it progressed. I suspect this may be an allegory for Pipe-Major Alan Bevan’s leadership with a slow start last year, there are great things to come.
The concert hall was packed with a 2,100-strong crowd, including the standing tickets sold, and there was a palpable air of expectation as the lights dimmed and compère for the evening, Neil Dickie, opened the proceedings in his inimitable style. Neil’s free and easy informal manner and natural comic flair . . .