There are traditions that have been established for many years especially at this festive time of year and then there are others that although fairly new seem to be just right. One of the latter is the visit of the kings of ‘bag rock’, those Red Hot Chilli Pipers, as once again they sold out the massive Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline at this festive time.
Way before start time the Chilli fans were gathering outside the historical theatre and being entertained by a local pipeband to help ward of the cold of this December evening and once the doors were open flocked into the sold-out venue in anticipation of the fare on offer.
Now the Alhambra stage is by no means the smallest around, and that is probably just as well considering the numbers of musicians involved. If good things come in threes then they have it down, three horn players, three drummer / percussionists, three others, keyboards, bass and bouzouki player Stevie Lawrence and new guitarist Nick Hawryliw replacing The ‘G’Man and of course fronted by the three intrepid pipers Kyle Warren, Kevin MacDonald and founder and Musical director Stewart Cassells. The power of three was enhanced by the occasional injection of glamour with three Red Hot Chilli dancers in a few of their numbers too.
Since their formation in 2004 this band and their eclectic mixture of styles, traditional music, self-penned pipe tunes fused with classic rock numbers has been rapidly building up a following and it is clear to understand why. I must admit to not being a huge fan of bagpipes, but in the way they are presented by the Chillis, they are more than palatable and the rock classics they play are added to by their interpretation.
The recent release of their fourth album ‘Music for the Kilted Generation’, which carries on the ethos of previous recordings, is showcased in a lot of the set they performed on the night and in spite of the change in a couple of key players has expanded their repertoire to cover dance songs by C + C Music Factory and War in addition to rockier numbers and even vocals added to a couple of numbers. Be it old or new the experience was lapped up by the packed house of all ages ranging from early teens to those with bus passes such is their mass appeal.
Value for money is not in question either as they played for two hours non-stop barely pausing for breath between numbers.
But like all good things eventually they have to end and so this gig did too. Stewart Cassells in his final thanks to one and all indicated that the band would like to make this an annual event as they loved playing there and judging by the support and reaction Dunfermline likes them playing there too. So watch the Alhambra website www.alhambradunfermline.com to see if this does happen and book your tickets fast as they always sell out quickly.
For further information on the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and their forth coming gigs and even their on-line store, then go to their web site www.redhotchillipipers.co.uk
Reviewed by Geoff