From the tremblingly loud intro to the wild medley of an ending, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers were magnificent. The music was blaring but tight as anything, with not a duff note in sight. Far from the stage being crammed, there were only three bagpipe players who were all exceptionally talented. The rest of the stage was occupied by two guitarists, three drummers and a brass trio of trumpet, sax and trombone, all decked out in black kilts and red socks. On a few occasions the band were also joined by an excellent local pipe band, who provided accompaniment for songs like the Hills of Argyll.
Do not assume the gig was all traditional Scottish melodies. Tunes ranged from Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’, which I can never look at the same way again, to ‘Everybody Dance Now’ and ‘Amazing Grace’. This last demonstrates the skill and attraction of the act. Never did I imagine you could clap and dance to such a granny of a song, but after the first verse was played by the iconic lone piper, the rest of the band joins in with the jazzy brass and raging guitars turning the familiar song into something raucous and passionate.
While the whole band was incredible, the standouts have to be the drummers. The one moment when a drummer dropped his stick actually came as a relief to remind us that we were watching human beings: just very talented ones. One man was playing an incredible quad drum and there was a drumstick sword fight that was an instant hit with the crowd.
The audience was wrapped around their reeds from the first note and gave a great reaction to all the songs. Despite the heat in the Queens Hall, the crowd spent the vast majority of the gig bouncing and dancing away with the band, who charged about on stage and must have been on the point of passing out by the end of the gig.
In Edinburgh tourist season, and the rest of the year, there is no shortage of bagpipe players lining the streets. If they all sounded like the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, you would not be able to move for the parties pounding on every street.