Piping Live so far

Do you know what the problem is?

There's simply too much on.

Worlds Week, now Piping Live, is sensory overload for the committed piper or drummer. Events everywhere (some rather remote) and practising bands round every corner are inclined to turn the head.

This year's programme seems fuller than ever. The printed booklet is good, but could do with a re-think on design. Each day is set out as if in chronological order, but in fact it isn't. You have to trawl through the pages to be sure of not missing something.

One of this year's biggest changes was the loss of the 'hub' at George Square, which is undergoing renovation.

The replacement at St Enoch Square is much less satisfactory. There is really no Square to speak of, so the performing bands end up jammed in at the bottom end. It is a less than salubrious part of the town, so bandsmen find themselves rubbing shoulders with a large number of drunks and junkies. Keep your head down and concentrate on the tunes folks.

A positive side effect is the decision to have Band Spots on Buchanan Street. The performing outfits now stop for fifteen minutes at the Concert Hall and halfway down the street, before heading for the Square. Predictably, the crowds at the stops usually dwarf the ones at the Square. Hopefully the changes to George Square won't prevent a return to that venue next year.

That could scarcely be considered a full review of the event - more a few thoughts as we go along. It's far from over yet....

The Vale

Next for the on street performances is Vale of Atholl. Smaller and less confident than the New Zealanders, I suspect they will be lucky to qualify. Playing fairly assured though.

Canterbury

The day started with another band on Buchanan Street. This time it was Canterbury Caledonian from New Zealand.

They had better sound that I expected, but some iffy breaks between tunes would not be found in more top flight Grade One outfits.

The Concert

Having missed out for years on the Worlds concert, I have now had two profoundly different experiences in successive years.

Last year's effort from Boghall was, in truth, rather disappointing. It was massively over-long and the insistence on playing in every possible combination throughout the entire band repertoire made for a tedious programme.

Inveraray & District provided an altogether different and more pleasing night. One of the primary differences was the length of time spent on stage by the entire Band. Aside from a couple of stunning solo performances and the obligatory drum salute, it was full band almost the whole time.

And what a band!

Performances were consistently driving and exciting. Drum scores had the McWhirter touch - which I always feel owes a great deal to Reid Maxwell (who was in the crowd). Pipes sang out clearly through the sold-out auditorium and the audience lapped it all up.

There were many highlights but I particularly enjoyed the barber shop quartet featuring Stuart Liddell and Dougie Campbell, treating us to an acapella version of The River is Wide. It was played slightly for laughs but was quite excellent.

The night ended with a superb Mason's Apron encore and the Band paraded off and through a standing ovation to the foyer, where they were practically mobbed!

All in all, a night to remember. It's hard to imagine that this Band will not win the World title sometime soon....