Rise up . . . and up . . . and up (HD video highlights)
in the audience were called upon to dance in the aisles, which they did. There had to be a few people in the audience who were wondering if this was really happening, and it was yet another example of Inveraray involving the community in what they do.
The audience was treated to two sets from fiddle virtuoso Archie MacAllister and his spellbinding renditions of many pipe tunes, allowing the band to take a breather and tune, before Liddell returned to the stage for his latest jaw-dropping solo spot. The greatest Highland piper on the planet, according to popular sentiment, delivered as he always – always – does. Liddell’s seemingly effortless musicality and technique are truly from another stratosphere.
The balance of the concert saw more pipes and strings and another dynamic build with the band taking the stage with only drones going and, as the pipers emerged the sound ascended in volume – a simple, yet highly engaging effect. Another use of the staggered start marked the penultimate piece, with a synth-laden air opening to a set of jigs, building to a terrific encore that Liddell warned the audience had never been tried before. The pipe section stopped their drones for a chanters-only opening to set up a set of waltzes and “The Mason’s Apron” in jig-time, complete with trademark Liddell chanter-strumming.
The crowd rose to its feet as the band played off the stage, into the audience and out to the foyer with, appropriately, “Lochanside,” a tune emblematic of their Argyllshire roots.
“Ascension” was another Pre-World’s concert for the ages. The show’s many builds in sound, in players, in dynamics ultimately grew to have the audience itself rise up after an often awesome display of young talent, and Inveraray & District is sure to soar to even higher heights.
Andrew Berthoff is editor of pipes|drums Magazine