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National Youth Pipe Band, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

As a show of strength, Saturday's finale at the National Youth Pipe Band's latest showcase could hardly have been more eloquent.

Not having taken along an abacus, your reviewer is unable to confirm just how many pipers were squeezed on to the Old Fruitmarket stage but we're talking several football teams worth, and the sound they created was as impressive as their number.

The NYPB is a non-competing band and favours the big event with light shows, back projections and in essence, rock-concert presentation. As a spectacle this was persuasive, even if some of the conflict between the pipes and drum corps and the at-times rather bombastic and screechy accompanying folk-rock band raised doubts about that "non-competing" tag.

It explored the legacy of the young musicians' forebears, evoking battles such as Waterloo and Bannockburn and introducing a First World War sequence that might have been subtitled Somme et Lumiere.

The "tag-team" soloists, three 17-year-olds trading high fives and taking turns to show their individual piping prowess, were a particular highlight and the drum corps's interaction with a quintet from Lanarkshire's Mugenkyo school of Japanese Taiko drumming suggested a promising musical relationship in the making. But if traditionalists might have preferred the rock beat-free strathspey and reel set, when the two worlds coexisted convincingly, as on the tightly rocking The Hamster and band director Alisdair McLaren's splendid Lullaby, the notion of pipe band as long-term pop stars seemed entirely plausible.


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