DeKalb welcomes Scottish rockers

By Peter Zemeske

World renowned bagpipe rockers the Red Hot Chilli Pipers brought their Scottish-tinged rock covers and original music to the Egyptian Theatre Friday.

Not to be confused with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers formed in Scotland in 2002 with the goal of fusing traditional Scottish music with the more accessible rock genre, according to their official website. The band saw a rise in popularity after winning the BBC talent show “When Will I Be Famous?” in 2007. With 200 live shows each year, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

The two-hour set started with an instrumental piece that showcased the band’s ability to rile up a crowd. The piece was complete with dancers, a nine-piece ensemble and an impressive light array. After the song, it was apparent the tone of the evening was going to be high powered.

The set varied between instrumental medleys and full songs. Among the bands The Pipers chose to cover were The Who, Deep Purple, Queen and Coldplay. One highlight from the songs covered was Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” The song started close to the typical arrangement most people have become familiar with, a piano with a single voice. After the second verse, the rest of the band entered the mix to make for a blistering, slow-burning rendition that left the crowd cheering. The bagpipes and booming percussion added some Scottish flair to the track.

The crowd was of an older demographic, which makes sense considering most of the songs covered were by classic rock bands. No matter the age, everyone in the audience enjoyed themselves immensely. A few members of the crowd took to the sides of the auditorium to dance along to the music. One song, “Leave a Light On,” was dedicated to those suffering from mental health issues. The song is an original composition written by Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Scottish singer-songwriter Tom Walker.

The band closed with AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” which, fittingly, had bagpipes in the original recording. As the night drew to a close, the crowd was still amped up with infectious energy that couldn’t be shook.  The talent of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers carries them beyond the pun of their name as a result of their original blend of ancient culture and modern rock.