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RED HOT CHILLI PIPERS - Live At The Lake 2014

RED HOT CHILLI PIPERS - Live At The Lake 2014
Private Label CPP01CD

Live at the Milwaukee Irish Festival, due possibly to a lucky mix-up between a leprechaun and a sporran, this double CD was recorded in the summer of 2014. There is also a DVD of the same concert available featuring dancers and flashing lights and other visual treats. The CDs are strictly audio, but extremely entertaining nonetheless. RHCP run through their repertoire of popular songs and classic Scottish pipe music, at times simultaneously. Thunderstruck, Hellbound Train, Chasing Cars, Low Rider, Long Way To The Top and other Bagrock favourites blare out from a Mid West open-air stage - a cross between Woodstock and Waco. Some of the material here is straight off studio albums, but other tracks have been modified or mutated for a live audience. The 100 Pipers selection is a real crowd pleaser and the 13-minute monster take on We Will Rock You is unlikely to feature on a studio recording any time soon.

There are a few niggles - a couple of changes in tempo which break the spell mid-tune, a couple of surprising choices from the traditional piping repertoire - but they are minor irritations soon forgotten in the face of a generous 90 minutes of top-notch live entertainment. After a rock guitar intro, the Chillies explode onto the scene in a glorious conical-bore eruption. Gimme All Your Lovin' is an opportunity for solo piping pyrotechnics, backed by a bold brass section, leading into the first of several great Gordon Duncan tunes. Silver Spear is about as traditional - and as Irish - as RHCP get, before launching into more heavy rock and a not-quite-quick-enough rendition of The Fourth Floor. There's a vocal number or two, a handful of lighter pop themes such as Everybody Dance Now and Wake Me Up and yet more of that heavy rock on Scottish pipes. I confess my favourites are still mainly the traditional pieces: The Little Cascade, Crooked Bridge, Croftinloan Times, Just for Willie and especially Rory's Baravan. But that's just me. Whatever way you slice them, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers are tasty, crunchy and at times quite literally on fire. How do you eat yours? 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.