Friday, July 1

Red Hot Chilli Pipers – Floral Pavilion Theatre

Bagpipes with attitude, drums with a Scottish accent and a show so hot it carries its own health warning – that’s what the Red Hot Chilli Pipers sell themselves as and they do not disappoint! I went in cold but came out hot.

Currently performing their 20th anniversary tour, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers are a Celtic rock band who bring the house down with their own unique blend of bagpipes, rock music and a relentless command of the stage that screams ‘we’re here to have fun and so are you!’

A combination of guitars, keyboards, drums and bagpipes create their unique, self-proclaimed ‘bagrock’ sound. This is not a sit down recital of several set pieces. Picture the energy of Queen, the stage presence of Elvis and the tradition of a marching band and you have something that resembles this group. Their set is a mixture of traditional pipe tunes and contemporary pieces.

Opening with Hallelujah, the audience is given a taste of the bold sound to come and vocal gymnastics these guys are capable of. Whilst there was some familiarity at the beginning of the song, the seamless falsetto toward its latter half was unexpected and, again, made something well-known their own. Everything in this performance has the Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ stamp on it.

At first it seems the audience role is relatively passive but don’t be fooled. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes for this. By the second song the crowd were invited – or determinedly encouraged – to get on their feet and be involved early on for a set of jigs. This loosens everyone up as the expectation, and freedom, to join in is clear.

What is also clear is the joy the band get from interacting with the audience and fans. With hits such as Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girl, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing and Avicii’s Wake Me Up playing, you’ll need your singing voice. The latter was exquisite.

Throughout the show, the mic is held to the audience in places, creating a complete community experience in the venue. Phones were also invited in this performance. With lights on and a rhythmic sway, the audience waves along to the band’s charity single You Can Leave the Light On (originally with Tom Walker) and is frequently bouncing along to the beats.

There are no airs and graces surrounding the Red Hot Chilli Pipers; they were keen to meet fans and engage after the performance as well as during. They give an impression of loving what they do and in sharing it with others.

By the end of the evening the crowd demands more and is on its feet of its own accord. It starts with a foot tap. Then a little nod. Finally, a leg goes and before you know it, you’re jigging along with arms in the air to the sound of bagpipes with attitude; drums with a Scottish accent; and a show so hot it carries its own health warning.

Future tour dates are listed on their website and you can keep up to date with their activities on Facebook. 

Reviewer: Ezzy LaBelle

Reviewed: 20th May 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★