A capacity crowd of 8800 packed into the castle esplanade arena for the first performance of the event for three years were treated to renditions of the Williams it Let Me Entertain You, Rocky Horror crowd-pleaser Time Warp and and Rather Be, Clean Bandit’s hit with Jess Glynne.Versions of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army anthem, Dua Lipa’s hit Don’t Start Now and the Tom Jones classic Delilah were also unveiled at the official curtain-raiser for the event, which has been revamped by the Tattoo’s first creative director, New Zealander Michael Braithwaite.
Traditional elements such as the massed pipes and drums, the lone piper and Scotland the Brave were combined with spectacular sequences set to Gaelic and Hebridean anthems, with tracks by the late Celtic musician Martyn Bennett and festival favourites Skipinnish taking centre stage in the finale of the 90-minute show, Voices, which features a tribute to Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy
New special effects transformed the historic fortress and the esplanade for a Day of the Dead sequence by Mexican performers, a nightclub-style “electro pipes” set complete with a DJ, fire and lasers, Highland dancing displays and dazzling precision drumming.
Mr Braithwaite said: “This year’s show offers an exhilarating array of tradition and innovation.
"From the breathtaking power of the massed pipes and drums, and our military performers, the colour and spectacle of our cultural groups, to the excitement and energy of our singers and dancers, Voices is both the Tattoo you know and love, and a bold new step into the future.
"Putting together a production on this scale is a huge task at the best of times. In this time of global pandemic the challenge has been 10-fold.
"Despite this I have been struck by the ability of people throughout the world to remain connected in a time of enforced separation.
"Voices is a celebration of the human power of connection. With music, song, dance, images, sound and light, these voices have reached out across the globe.”
Tattoo chief executive Buster Howes said: “This is an enormously exciting moment for us – it’s dreamlike because it has been imagined for so long.
"I was swallowing hard during rehearsals the first time the massed pipe and drums cranked up.
"We’ve fiddled with a sacred artefact. The Tattoo has a lineage of 72 years, it was raised with the other festivals under the flowering of the human spirit after the degradations of the Second World War. Coming out of Covid, there is a sort of similar feel as we live in dark and difficult times.
"We’ve not fiddled with the wonderful things about the Tattoo, like the massed pipes and drums. It would be more than my life’s worth.“But we play some tunes, literally and metaphorically, on other things, there are rappers in the cast and there are things like electro pipes, which I suspect some people will hate, but other people will like them too.
"There is no commentator this year as we were keen to see if the music, light, dance and all the rest of it could speak for itself.”