Bagpipes And Hit Songs- Red Hot Chilli Pipers Bring Creativity And Fun To Ordway


My goal this year was to go to some more unique shows. You know, the ones that are unlike anything you have ever seen before and the ones that make you sit back and just take it all in with the cheesiest of smiles stretching across your face. I’ve found a couple of these thus far this year but I think last night definitely took the cake when it came to unique shows for the year so far. I mean, come on, the band name is Red Hot Chilli Pipers. If that doesn’t tell you where my night went and the brilliance of this band (I mean, just the creativity in the name alone! Come on!) and that doesn’t bring a smile to your face then go ahead and just stop here because anything that comes after this intro paragraph is going to be straight cheese and me gushing over this band’s brilliance and creativity.

My dad plays the accordion so, naturally I had to one-up him when it came to the oddest instrument in the family. By a stroke of fate, my high school had a bagpipe teacher offer up classes when I was a sophomore. That was my chance. Who was I to say no to learning the bagpipes? I loved it. The technicality of it all was unlike anything I had ever done before in my life and the sound was enough to annoy the crap out of parents which, at fifteen, let’s be honest- that was all that mattered. Unfortunately, the years have passed and my free time has become less and less and the bagpipes is just one of those things that I couldn’t keep up with. That being said, once a piper, always a piper and as soon as I saw the name Red Hot Chilli Pipers on a show list in the local paper, my eyes lit up and I knew this was a show I couldn’t miss.

Sunday night’s show was held at the beautiful Ordway Theatre in Saint Paul and I mean it when I say beautiful. Having never been to the venue before, I got there early so I could scope it out. Nobody seemed to mind me just wandering aimlessly through the maze of halls admiring the cleanliness of the place and how nice every single usher was. After gazing over the balcony into the main foyer where people were laughing over glasses of wine and waiting in line at the modest merch table, I made my way into the actual auditorium part and was in awe. The stark white walls contrasted the wavy light wood architecture of the ceiling in the most beautiful way. Used for a lot of Broadway plays (which is something I always want to go to but never seem to find the time for), I didn’t have to wonder long why I had never been there before but I instantly had a new goal for the year- get to the Ordway more often.

As the lights went down the audience’s chatters turned into a roar of applause and it was hard to not get wrapped up in the excitement of it all. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers have been a thing since the early 2000’s. Hailing from Scotland, they really haven’t made too many appearances in the United States and even fewer appearances in the Twin Cities (I honestly don’t know that they have ever been here before). Regardless, the crowd was anxious and as soon as the band jumped in, I understood why.

The set started with just your basic instrumentation of guitar, bass, drums, and keys. I was a bit confused. I could have sworn this was going to be all about the bagpipes so where the heck were they? It didn’t take long before the three pipers were center stage donning their red and black kilts. Now, my plan was to take down notes of each song they played because that’s kind of the whole idea behind this group but, I have to be honest, I was in a state of shock and awe the second the pipers started playing and I completely forgot to take notes on the song selection. Although I can’t give you an exact rundown of what they played, I can tell you it was a little bit of everything. From a Coldplay song to ACDC to a little bit of Sabbath, I mean this band was all over the place and each song seemed to be better than the last. I loved the way that, although a pipe band, they respected the audience’s ears and, although there were a lot of pipes, there were plenty of moments that featured the other overly talented band members.

Everyone in this band was truly the best at their instrument. Again, since I was so in awe of the band I didn’t take notes when they were each being introduced so I don’t have names (so sorry to all of them!) but I can tell you that each one of them brought something to the table. From the truly stunning vocals of the singer that would come out for certain songs and take over the spotlight with ease from the bag pipers to the jaw-dropping drumming skills of the auxiliary percussionist who would often be wandering around the stage with a marching snare, it was impossible to catch everything but I was definitely trying. Although this band is clearly about the pipes, I loved that each of the other musicians was given a chance to shine as they clearly deserved it.

Last night’s performance left me truly speechless. From the quirkiness of the pop and metal songs being performed by bagpipes to the amount of energy all of the band members had which was, in turn, reflected by the audience- I was in love with absolutely every moment of last night’s show.

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are definitely one of the most unique bands I’ve ever seen live but they are also now one of my favorites. I’m already praying to the concert Gods that they come back soon.


1 Comment

  1. The lead piper on the night was Willie Armstrong, a retired firefighter and longtime member. The marching snare is Grant Cassidy, a world champion on solo snare and lead drummer for Uddington Strathclyde pipe band. All the pipers have some sort of pedigree with top pipe bands in Europe (there are three or four others, they rotate for trips). Come to Milwaukee Irish Fest in August to see them really rip and roar, or Dubuque before that.

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