Beneath the distinctive Glasgow Green obelisk and within earshot of the lone tree (and its welcome shade) next to the entrance to the Grade 1 arena, the Grade 2 World Championship delivered in spades.

While the baking sunshine proved a challenge for many of the 19 bands to control the pitch of the pipes, the medley contest was a delight to watch. Several sloppy intros aside, the standard of play was generally very high, and many bands could consider themselves unlucky that there was no room for them in the top six. The expected title fight between the three winners of the previous championships, Buchan Peterson, Ravara and Royal Burgh of Annan, duly delivered, and Uddingston’s remarkable run earned Grant Cassidy’s corps the drumming prize and third place for the band overall to complete the top four. Each of these bands would have deserved the World title, but the top honours ultimately went to Buchan, who like many bands across the globe have been mourning members who have sadly passed away in the three years since the piping world last descended on Glasgow Green. Much-missed family and friends were in the minds of many competitors and spectators throughout the day and well into the evening’s celebrations. City of Edinburgh placed fifth in their first season since Pipe Major David Clunie and Leading Drummer Simon Grant moved from Denny & Dunipace, and perennial top-six contenders Manorcunningham rounded out the prize list.

However, the most memorable performance of the afternoon was delivered by Kilchoman Distillery Isle of Islay, conveying an impressive emotional range in their selection that grabbed the attention of the watching audience. They attacked their jigs, strathspeys and reels with a gusto some of their counterparts in the nearby Grade 1 arena would do well to emulate, balancing out the lively energy with evocative harmonies and thunderous rolls from the bass section in the haunting Runrig song Chi Mi’n Geamhradh at the centre and climax of their medley. While they were not ultimately rewarded with a top-six placing by all of the judges, the massive cheer from the crowd and smile on the face of Pipe Major Nigel Morris at the conclusion of their performance were well deserved.

Catching up on Glasgow Green with friends not seen in the flesh since the pandemic started, it was hard not to notice how similar many of the conversations were. “How good to see you again! How marvellous to be back at the Worlds at last! What did you think of this band or that band? Why does the marchpast still take too long?” This year, faced with temperatures usually reserved strictly for summer getaways to Majorca or bog-standard Highland Games weather in North America, there may also have been those who, in hushed tones, perhaps also pondered a question never before asked at the World Pipe Band Championships: “wouldn’t it be nice to have just a little bit of rain?”

Photos by Stuart Milne