August 13, 2015

Ready and able

of their medley performances. It was a pleasure to hear the rich clear tone and pipes and drums come through at this stage of the evening and for me the playing stepped up further.

When the band had finished and left the stage the audience had different ideas, and coaxed them out for a return with “The Mason’s Apron” and some other familiar tunes banged out in jig tempo.

The band then left the security of the stage with a nippy 2/4 march (was I going to get that MSR I yearned for? Alas, no.) and marched out into the audience with drum corps immediately in front of the stage. The audience now understood why the hearing protection had been handed out. With 11 pipers down each side of the main stalls area the band showed their quality with an arrangement of “Mrs. MacLeod of Raasay” before leading the audience out to the bar.

The band finishing by marching off of the stage through the audience, into the foyer.

In summary, as a piper this entire band is where you want to aim for. Tonight for me it was the drum corps and particularly the bass section that impressed most. The visual impact of the bass and tenors was superb with a clean five tenors against a simple dark background, proving that proficient clean flourishing beats clever lighting or projected visuals hands down any day. Mackenzie Webster on her first season on bass with SFU is certainly an asset and locked the whole ensemble together.

The big question surely in everyone’s mind: “Ils sont prêt?” Was this to be a band that was ready to lift the big prize on Saturday? That’s not for me to say. The tone was much more polished than 2014 and particularly the second medley they performed was superb and came over powerfully. The concert setting is however nothing like the Glasgow Green arena, so I personally will leave it to Friday before forming an opinion.

Finally, a great night, with a superb-sounding pipe band. Thanks once again to Dougie Orr and the Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band for continuing to deliver what is one of the highlights of the pipe band calendar. Well done!

Neil Nicholson is the pipe-major of the Grade 2 MacKenzie Caledonian Pipe Band of Dundee, Scotland, and band that features regularly in the prize lists at major championships. A member of “MacCal” since his very first days, he has also been a piper with the Grade 1 Vale of Atholl, and was several other bands while working in England. He works as an engineering manager in the Tayside area.




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