A Review of the Worlds Day 1

P/M Stuart Liddell MBE…deep in concentration on Day 1

I penned these notes a few hours after the close of play last Friday…..

There is not a band that let themselves down today. The top outfits are all in the mix going into tomorrow’s last two legs, the standard among them unbelievably high. Equally in the mid table bands.

The weather was kind, no rain, and the day ran to schedule as per the RSPBA’s usual efficient system, kicking off at 10.30am and finishing just before 5pm with a half hour lunch break. I listened to each of the 32 performances from the small side-on stand, a good position at the junction of pipes and drums.

By the Editor

To the armchair fans I will say this: don’t go by what you heard on your television or computer today. The actual differences in tone and technique did not come across to the viewer the way they did to the audience round the Grade 1 arena.

Over the two legs I have Inveraray just ahead of Boghall with the Field Marshal behemoth third. Thereafter SLOT, Shotts, SFU and the Power are all vying for the places.

I need to say something about band sizes. Field Marshal played 25 pipers and had a huge sound, but was this a sledgehammer trying to crack a musical nut? They played brilliantly but left me a little cold in the medley where I find the assassination of Mrs MacPherson hard to take.


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In contrast Inveraray’s Stuart Liddell went out with 17 pipers yet still had big, full, refined sound. Their playing was refined too. No edges blurred in the technique, everything fluid and well put together. Less was more.

However, I had Boghall first in the Medley. Last on they were simply outstanding, with the slow air exhibiting the finest pipe band tone you will hear. The Boggies also had a stirring march in John MacFadyen of Melfort but for me the strathspey and reel lacked punch.

What about Shotts? This may not be their year, but in young Pipe Major Emmett Conway they proved they have someone who will lead them to the very top. Listening to the technique and cohesion in their playing and the understanding of the basic idioms, how could you draw any other conclusion? Watch them go in 2024.

Shotts at the line

Could SFU have phrased Lord Alex better? For sure, but there was no Wednesday concert hangover for this band; powerful in every department, yet they must have been exhausted with only a 24 hour break.

SLOT: much, much better than Dumbarton, the Medley particularly outstanding with the ear constantly attracted to John Dunne’s caressing bass. Not far off the top three.

A good MSR from Scottish Power but the lack of melody in the Medley is a definite negative. Johnstone and Fife Police struggled with unison in both runs and they were usurped in the middle order by Canterbury. The New Zealand band were terrific and their sound put them narrowly ahead of the well-schooled pipers of Manawatu.

Those Texans from St Thomas Alumni cemented their place as the second band in North America with two entertaining performances and compliments to the pipe major for his decisive tempi, his refusal to be cowed by the occasion.

Field Marshal in the circle with 25 pipers

I cannot close without mentioning the adjudicators. Can someone please tell me why one piping judge felt it necessary to stand behind the drummers to listen to the piping? And how can it be possible for an Ensemble judge to do his job if he wears out his shoe leather continually on the move around the circle, stopping one minute behind the drummers, the next behind a piper playing seconds and the next behind the pipe major? Would someone judging an orchestra stop behind the timps, make some notes then head on over to the double basses, with perhaps a moment or two at the brass? It defies logic.

Lastly, why did one judge sport a hat more designed for the bush-tucker man? Should it not be Glengarry or Balmoral? And those tartan breeks masquerading as trews……

My combined result from the two legs of Day 1:
1 Inveraray 2 Boghall 3 Field Marshal 4 SLOT 5 Shotts 6 SFU

  • A review of Day 2 tomorrow; full results here.

15 thoughts on “A Review of the Worlds Day 1

  1. Well I’m disgusted by the summary. Its biased against FMM. FMM was put 9th 10th and 11th in DRUMMING at competitions them points wasnt THROWN out for it wouldnt suit all you jocks in chilly JOCKO land. FMM HAD A BIGGER SWEETER SOUND ESPECIALLY FRI. IF NATS POINTS HAD STAYED IN FMM WOULDVE WON YOU DONT NEED TO BE EINSTEIN TO KNOW THAT.ITs typical that alot of Scots are over the moon FMM didnt win.If your RSPBA hadnt been nursing STRATHCLYDE police in 1982 & 1983 Boghall wouldve already got 2 fair and squarely because both ends was very impressive . IM SERIOUSLY not even a fan and believe me I’m not a fan of FMM. Im a stickler for fair play There two MEDLEYS two MSRS was that far ahead of THE REST IN PIPING I CAN HEAR THAT AS A DRUMMER on ARM CHAIR or DECK CHAIR or standing OR WHERE EVER I WATCHED IT FROM THE SAME POSITION START TO FINISH. I dont like what FMM do with mrs mcpherson but I cant mark them down because its played very well ONLY THING I PULLED MONTGOMERY ON WAS and ITS TRUE is THECENSEMBLE HAD SEPARATIONS IN BOTH MARCHES IN BOTH MSRS in too many phrases FOR ME So when INVERARY who I had first cut their drones and changers out they have effectively stopped YOUR NOT TO STOP UNTIL YOUR FINISHED so let’s not punish FIELD MARSHAL for Mrs McPherson. IM LIVID WITH UNFAIRNESS OF THROWING OUT POINTS.

    1. I’d suggest having a sit down, breathe a bit, and add some punctuation before posting in the future.

      There’s nothing biased about giving an opinion, with reasoning and from a consummate professional, that says FMM weren’t the best band out there.

      1. Don’t stifle debate, it’s healthy.
        That said, well done Boghall and Bathgate. Worthy champions.

        1. Not stifling the debate as all, indeed I’m saying it’s reasonable and ok to do so Vs the original poster who says anything other than FMM is nonsense (in between the diatribe)

    2. Hi Ernie I don’t think you have looked at all the summaries as Boghall won both medleys so not sure how you can state FMM were far ahead?! Can’t blame Nat on that as he wasn’t judging the medleys ‍♀️

  2. When I saw the judge with the wide brimmed hat, I thought must be an American. Here in this country it’s not uncommon to see judges with hat like that or in ball caps. My big gripe is and only in snare drumming is the “rolled up” sleeves. The rest of the band has their sleeves rolled down and buttoned or linked, this is where the P/M has to say put them down or fall out. The RSPBA can always on the critic sheet deduct 2 points and if that disqualifies an other wise great performance so be it! It’s about the band not you and your comfort level.

  3. Robert, I enjoy your insight and candor. Isn’t it time to impose size limits on bands? It seems impossible to crack the top six without 24 or more pipers, 8 people in the mid-section and 10 or more side drummers. Some say that size doesn’t matter, but obviously it does. Why not level the playing field?

  4. I hope it is ok to make this comment here. But I have to congratulate the young piper from St Thomas Alumni who, despite his challenges, was able to play a full part in his band performances. I know many of the people around me in the crowd were quite moved by this. And well done to his band mate who helped him throughout.

    1. That should have added to the quality of their performance for showing the World that they were of an inclusive nature. Well done the band and both pipers.

  5. Great review. I love to hear someone tell it as he sees it, no ifs, no buts. Its so unusual now. Well done

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