August 13, 2015

Ready and able

and timing created a relaxed atmosphere that set the tone for the evening.

One formal moment was a tribute applause to the late Ed Neigh of Ontario for his immense contribution to the art.

Never a great one for recalling tune names, it was with a real sense of disappointment that I eagerly flicked through the program to find that there was in fact no program. It was a journey of discovery to see what the band would perform. The repertoire was to be posted on the band’s Facebook page, but as of the next morning, still waiting.

The full band with the accompanying quartet.

After an almost 15-minute warm up from Neil Dickie, the band performance started with young Alastair Lee on keyboards. Throughout the evening there were a constant 20 pipers, nine sides and five tenors, which balanced well. The snares had clearly been reduced to balance the acoustics with a regular rotation of what I think amounted to 12 of a corps, and for me they got it just right.

Neil Dickie fashions Burgess The Sporran, which hopes will become a meme.

The band launched in with a slow air and then switched into some rapid-fire jigs culminating in a tasteful arrangement. Next came the first of the two medley performances of the evening as the band warmed to the task. This was followed a brief word of welcome by Alan Bevan. First impression: much improved sound of pipes on what I heard on tune-up at last year’s World Pipe Band Championships.

The band was then joined on stage by some more musical talent, Craig Muirhead on keyboards. Ali Hutton guitar, Breagh Macdonald fiddle and clogs, with Duncan Lyall on double bass. With three of this ensemble coming with pipe band experience there was a sensitivity to the challenge of accompanying a full pipe band that is sometimes lacking. Most of the time it worked really well, with only some areas where, certainly where I was sitting, the ability to appreciate the quality of playing was lost.

We were treated to “The Sleeping Tune” by Gordon Duncan, building up from a quartet with the whole corps then joining featured in one of the band’s previous medleys and then again into some clever arrangements. Fiddle and double bass in this were a real treat.

The band launched into a set of reels accompanied by Breagh Macdonald on fiddle, where probably the combination failed to really deliver some tricky work on tempos, however this was soon forgotten when fiddle was cast adrift for a clog dance at the front of the . . .





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