A Scorching Day at the Worlds and a Scorching Performance from Field Marshal Montgomery

I sat through all of the Grade 1 band performances on the Friday at the Worlds. I sought refuge at the back of the south-facing stand where overhanging trees afforded a little shade from oppressive sunshine. It meant I was further away from the action. Bear that in mind when you read my comments.

A few general points on the two days. Firstly Glasgow Life need to get a life as regards the use of parasols on such a day. If I had one luminous jacketed harridan screaming at me ‘there’s tae be nae umburrrellllas…it’s in the rules’ I had many. I quietly pointed out their duty of care to people using their facilities, I was working, couldn’t leave, was not obscuring anyone’s view, and how else should I deal with 30 degree temperatures?

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Next, they should put up signs asking the audience to stay quiet during band performances – the way they do when golfers are about to take important shots. When people talk loudly it is rather unfair on those trying to listen.

Third, it is time the BBC spent less of our licence fee on Ms Bird. She might at least have done her homework for the post-prizes interview before declaiming to the world that Field Marshal were now the most successful band of all time. P/M Richard politely corrected her but the damage was done.

Next, entry fees. With the millions the Worlds brings into Glasgow and wider Scotland it is time admission charges were dropped. Charge for parking, the stands, but not for entry to Glasgow Green which is, after all, common land owned by every Glaswegian.

Lastly I don’t know how much it cost to print the Worlds programme, but a small refund might be due to whoever paid for it following the mix up over the Medley tunes in G1 and the embarrassing use of a reversed photograph on the front cover (left).

To the bands. The heat played a major part in this competition. I know of one piper who had to stop a few bars before the end of his band’s set. Another Pipe Major admitted he almost swooned.

It was a constant struggle not only to stay upright but to keep the chanters the right side of screaming. Field Marshal did.

I had them first in both Medley and MSR on Friday. They had a poise and presence no other band could challenge. Their drone sound alone drove them higher up the food chain than the others.

I understand Frank Andrews’ son James has taken over tuning duties. Clearly he has inherited all of his late father’s acute sense of hearing.

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FMM came on with 22 pipers. The circle was statuesque. It reminded me of Stonehenge. But the playing was anything but rocky. Even from my eyrie you could detect the precision in the technique, those weeks of one-to-one lessons with the P/M paying off big time.

We should now salute one of the all-time greats of pipe banding. In surpassing Ian McLellan’s total of 12 World titles Richard Parkes has achieved something many thought impossible – and this after a two-year lay off when many a less stoical individual would have called it a day, handing over to a younger man.

Reflect also on this. It is exactly 30 years since he won his first Worlds. Only a master musician could absorb and adapt to all the changes that have come his way in that time and still come out on top. Bravo Ricardo!

P/M Richard Parkes, 13 World titles

One of the best MSRs of the day was from Shotts but oh how it was ruined by crazy arm flailing from the bass section – and the bass wasn’t even tuned properly to boot. It does not enhance a stately 2/4 march when you thump out the last off and on beats at the end of every part. Leave that to the flute bands.

SFU did not have a sound in the MSR; huge improvement in the Medley. Boghall‘s strathspey was on the slow side but excellent sound and unison throughout. Scottish Power struggled for lift in Islay Ball but came close to matching FM’s drone tone. Pretty Marion was happier rythmically but they need get the strikes together in the sixth part.

Inveraray were very good – no major errors – but somehow they just didn’t grab you. Were they jaded after their Worlds Week concert which by all accounts was a huge success? I don’t know. But playing in this heat barely 40 hours after leaving the stage must have had an effect.

SFU 2022…an excellent Worlds for them, sixth overall and the drumming title for L/D Reid Maxwell

For me SLOT have lost some of the cut and thrust in their dot and tailing. Have they become more Irish and less Scots in their approach? I think that’s worth a look, but with the Mighty Creighton driving them on you’ve got to love the bhoys in the green.

My Friday MSR result: 1 FM 2 Inveraray 3 Boghall 4 SLOT 5 Shotts 6 Power

Medley: Electric stuff in jigs from Inveraray; perfect tempi throughout, but…..; top class set from SFU – you need great players to play this stuff; they have them; weak strathspeys from Power – better tunes out there; reels beautifully played; weakish finish from Shotts, bass behaving better; superb from FM – v special; Police Federation an improving band – good end to season run; SLOT – great sound; lovely slow air; straths rounded; medley rather complex?

In conclusion thanks to all bands for an excellent day of pipe band music in stifling conditions. Those not mentioned above: Closkelt, Fife Police, Dunedin, 78th Frasers, Johnstone, St Thomas were in difficult company, did not disgrace themselves at all, and will learn from the experience.

My Friday Medley result: 1 FM 2 SFU 3 Boghall 4 Inveraray 5 SLOT 6 Power

2 thoughts on “A Scorching Day at the Worlds and a Scorching Performance from Field Marshal Montgomery

  1. Rab, I completely agree with your comment about audience behaviour. When I attend an RSNO concert in the Usher Hall, I enjoy being able to listen to the music in peace without having to put up with people chatting all around me. As a pipe band adjudicator, I often have to move my position to distance myself from the occasional foghorn in the crowd. Arena managers these days generally have microphones. They could easily include an appeal for silence as they announce the names, etc, of bands before each performance. I have asked for that in the past when an audience has been particularly noisy but to no avail. However, displaying a ‘Quiet please’ sign might be an even better idea.

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