Ebrington spectacular: Walled City Tattoo 2014

Nearly all the elements which made the first Walled City Tattoo such a success in the City of Culture year are back for 2014.

Nearly, but not quite.

The opening scene of the Walled City Tattoo on Wednesday night at Ebrington Square. INLS3514MC016

The opening scene of the Walled City Tattoo on Wednesday night at Ebrington Square. INLS3514MC016

That’s not to say that it isn’t a wonderful, if chilly, excursion and a very entertaining way to spend a late summer evening.

The familiar elements which made the Tattoo last year were all there - the stirring sight and sound of the massed pipes and drums, the troops of Highland and Irish dancers, the international acts.

The star turn was the Imps motorcycle display team. Ranging in age from 17 down to as young as just five-years-old, they put on a tremendous display of precision riding, culminating in the much anticipated jump through a wall of fire.

All thoroughly entertaining, but it they just lacked the jaw-dropping wonder of last year’s headline act the Top Secret Drum Corps who had everyone who went to see the show talking last summer.

But that’s a minor quibble. Without doubt the best musical act of the night was the Paris Fire Brigade Band who came complete with a harpist.

That’s not something you see every day, nor is hearing a full brass band playing Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. The last time that was heard at Ebrington, it was played by Nile Rogers and this was a different experience entirely.

The 2014 was loosely based around a transport theme and Jonathan Burgess’ script called for a cameo appearance by Amelia Earhart, among others.

These theatrical interludes serve as a little light relief in between the big setpieces which keep on coming.

What sets the Walled City Tattoo apart from anything you will see at Edinburgh is the sight of Georgina Kee-McCarter’s Highland and Bronagh Jackson’s Irish dancers.

Together with the sound of house band Sontas, they create a sight and sound unique to Ebrington Square and they are the heart and soul of the whole Tattoo.

The later start also aided the much improved lighting from last year, showing Georgina and Bronagh choreography in the best possible, well, light.

The most disappointing aspect of the opening night on Wednesday was that the stands were only half full and the majority of the audience appeared to be from out of town.

If the Tattoo is to become a real lasting legacy of 2103, it needs the support of a home audience as well.

And it’s not such a hardship to watch a couple of hours of wonderful entertainment.