Besides a strong pre-announced line-up, the first big Eden Court show of this year’s nine-day, Highlands-wide Blas festival featured a sizeable throng of “special surprise guests”, who more than fulfilled their billing.
Rating: * * * *
The opening semi-surprise was a short but prodigiously authoritative set by 14-year-old Skye piper Brìghde Chaimbeul, who just that afternoon, at the Junior Northern Meeting, had added another first and second prize to her already groaning trophy cabinet.
Her crisply assertive, fluently expressive competition style later echoed as a kind of yin-yang counterpoint to the partnered Scottish smallpipes of father/son duo Hamish and Fin Moore, whose round, liquid sound silkily braided the measures and melodies of the older Gaelic piping style, solidly grounded in the rhythms of the dance, with Moore snr also contributing a stunningly atmospheric slow air.
The second big surprise, though, came just as Fear an Taigh Arthur Cormack seemed about to introduce the next act after Chaimbeul, when suddenly, from the theatre boxes around the stalls, arose the hearty sound of a Gaelic waulking song, followed a lively medley of tunes – performed by a musical “flash mob” featuring 20 or so members of local Gaelic choirs and young Fèis Rois musicians.
This entirely welcome interruption was then rounded off onstage by a superb display of fancy footwork from Scottish stepdance squad Dannsa.
And while the bagpipes-meet-breakdance performance Move, in contrast, considerably outstayed its welcome, the night as a whole rounded off in reliably fine, fiery and adventurous style with Breabach, who showed how catalysing Scottish traditions with contemporary creative imagination should be done.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South