Battlefield Band
at the Rathus Schuur,
Baar, Switzerland
(23 February 2005)

The Battlefield Band, founded in 1969 by Brian McNeill, took eight years before they recorded their first album, Battlefield Band, but today they are still at the forefront of traditional Scottish music.

In those 36 years, some of the finest traditional musicians have been part of the gang. Today, the four-piece lineup features the founding member Alan Reid on keyboards and vocals; Pat Kilbride, the Irishman, on guitar and vocals; Mike Katz on Highland pipes, low and tin whistles; and the highly talented young fiddler and multi-instrumentalist, Alasdair White, who joined in 2000.

When I saw the announcement for the gig several weeks ago, I was so excited that I instantly reserved a ticket. Well done, as the concert was completely sold out!

The guys brought along Rob van Sante as their sound engineer. In 2002, van Sante and Reid released the CD Under the Blue. (Read Chet Williamson's fine review.)

The gig included a brilliant mixture of traditional songs and tunes. Kilbride and Reid took their turns on lead vocals. Kilbride sang "Working Man," brilliantly supported by the fiddle and the pipes, and also sang together with Reid on Ian Sinclair's "The King's Shilling."

Reid also performed the 300-year-old traditional song "The Earl of Errol" and the traditional Stirlingshire ballad "The Banks O'Carron Water," both of which figure on the Batties' latest CD, Out for the Night. The audience joined in on the two Scottish whisky songs, "Nancy's Whisky" and "Whisky in the Field," both from Time & Tide.

My personal favorites were the instrumental sets. Katz's exceptional piping dominated a new set of tunes including "Mrs. Martin's Wedding," which will probably be on the new album due this year, according to Kilbride. White, the young fiddler from the Outer Hebrides, played a breathtaking set of tunes, including a strathspey and reel. Then the first set came to an end with a splendid set of tunes from the album Happy Daze including "The Merry Macs," "Medium Man," "Floating Candles" and "The Hen Wife's Daughter."

After a short break, the guys came back with another amazing instrumental set, "The Woodlawn Suite" from Kilbride's solo CD Nightingale Lane, featuring an inspired guitar solo by Kilbride. The set also featured "Ms. Dynamite of Benbecula/The Alewife T/ Little Cascade/Culder's Rant" from their latest CD. White played a tremendous fiddle solo on "Bowmore Fair," and Katz added another brilliant pipe solo before the final songs. "The Bonny Jeannie Deans" is a song about the paddle steamboats that used to connect the Inner and Outer Hebrides to the Scottish mainland, and the final song, "Camden Town," was followed by the wonderful instrumental set "DJ MacLeod's.

- Rambles
written by Adolf Goriup
published 9 April 2005

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