I can't help myself. Get me around a bunch of men in kilts and I suddenly become a whole different person. Add a little whisky and talk about inappropriate! Thankfully, I was well-aware of the family-friendly environment and I managed to somehow behave. (Okay, so I didn't actually drink anything harder than lemonade this time, but I wanted to. That counts for something, doesn't it?)
The highlight of the Las Vegas Celtic Gathering and Highland Games was, for me, The Wicked Tinkers. If you're not familiar with the band, do yourself a favor and get to know more about them. Four energetic, talented men take to the stage and make the most visceral and emotional music you can ever imagine.
I know many people are quick to jump in and decry the beauty of bagpipes, but if you stop and listen carefully, what you discover is that an accomplished piper is capable of playing out the rawness of the heart and human spirit. Whether hitting the sweet notes of love and longing, the anguished cries of loss and sorrow, or the raging anger of the heat of battle, a good piper brings all that to the fore. You feel it in your gut; it courses through your veins. And the drummers, well, they tap into primal rhythms that our bodies, at the cellular level, seem to crave. Your heart beats in time with the new rhythm; your feet and arms begin to move independent of your will. This, my friends, is the power of The Wicked Tinkers and of good celtic music. Hell, that should be the hallmark of ALL good music.
So it was that I found myself in the glaring sun, sweaty and feeling totally alive, letting the music take over and move me as it would. The only other time I felt quite the same way (away from the stage) was during the competition between pipe and drum bands. I witnessed some pretty spectacular performances. And it appeared that humans aren't the only admirers of one band in particular; it seems a few of the peacocks took the warm-ups to heart and got excited.
Back to The Wicked Tinkers. From previous performances, here they are.
Perhaps you noted the didgeridoo. While not exactly a traditional celtic instrument, the sounds it produces blend perfectly with the other sounds and rhythms. To me, it's no wonder that the didge can be found in music from all around the world -- it resonates beautifully (and quite literally, too). It just fits...with all music.
How many classic rock tunes did you pick out in that one? Not only did they get "The Pumpkin's Fancy" in there (a personal favorite), but they managed to "Wallop the Cat", AND they brought in Led Zep, Deep Purple, and Rod Stewart. C'mon, how can you not love a band that goes full on celtic medley hoppin'? For an animated look at "Wallop the Cat" (although I prefer the live and rowdy version):
And we'll leave with the performance that always makes me cry.
Thanks, gentlemen! You were fantastic!
P.S. There really were love-starved peacocks everywhere. They responded to the music with their eerie strangled cat-like cries, the grand display of opulent colors, and they even managed to shake their tailfeathers (a little non-celtic reference for our own editor-in-chief) to the music. Can't help but think Las Vegas is due to get a few new hatchlings in a month or so.