This concert gets many cheers. For the repertoire an imaginative mix of old and new. For the piping – what talent, musicianship, dexterity and dedication. For the backing – enhancing, not overpowering. For the playing – exciting, but not hysterical. For the sound – bright and solid. No wonder a packed Eden Court enthused.
Pipe Major Sandy Spence by Gordon Duncan started the show. Compere Alasdair McLaren observed that it is now a standard march – how better could these two gentlemen be remembered? Cabar Feidh, Paddy’s Leather Breeches and Butterfingers followed, then tune names meant little.
Whatever the origin of Under the Tiboro, Hamilton’s Nutsack and Rip the Calico, they rattled along, and in three sets beginning with Allan MacDonald’s rolling Feis Bharraigh the Development Band really showed its muscle. There is nothing underdeveloped here. A dazzling drum fanfare concluded the first half, the purple bass sticks particularly taking the eye.
400% is an Australian concoction which was powerfully performed by the senior band before swinging into the Royal Scots and the Black Watch Polkas. The mood softened with the elegiac Lightly Swims the Swan, brightened with the nerveless Tag Team of John Campbell and Calum Craib, then bounced with driven Strathspeys and Reels.
Then came NYPBoS favourites The Germinator and John Cairn’s Double – how many knew that John achieved half of that on this very stage with My King has Landed in Moidart? Three big jigs was the description given to The Seagull, Last Tango in Harris and Cameronian Rant – all mastered. Break Your Bass Drone (Mr GD again) and John Keith Lang led to the finale when the bands were joined for Scotland the Brave by the students of the Inverness Summer Camp 2015.
There is another cheer. For the concept. This band reaches out, embraces, stimulates. It aims to give a dynamic, exciting, and modern spin on the traditional pipe band performance. That certainly happened at Eden Court. The three pace rolls, the MSR, the MAP tunes, the formulaic medley were not missed. Some piobaireachd would have been good. Audiences love it.
Watch the NYPBoS Senior Band in action here