Review: The Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo is an awe-inspiring spectacle

Patriotic variety show will have you bursting with national pride

The USAF Honor Guard Drill Team at the 2019 Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo.
The USAF Honor Guard Drill Team is one of the many highlights at this year's Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo.

The Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo, the most patriotic of talent shows, is back at the Scotiabank Centre just in time for Canada Day.

Putting into words what the Tattoo entails is complicated if you’ve never seen one. Imagine America’s Got Talent with more bagpipes, more armed forces and more “what did I just see?” moments and you’ll start to get an idea of what you’re in for. If you have never seen a drum corps play the Super Mario Brothers theme, or witnessed monks chanting about where to walk on the sidewalk, you will before the night is over.

It is obvious the Tattoo spares no expense in bringing acts from all over the world to Halifax for the week-long event, with acts so numerous it is impossible to name them all here. Suffice to say, if anything is not to your taste, you only have to wait five minutes and the next entertainers probably will be.

This year’s theme “Power of Peace” was highlighted in several sections about Normandy Beach and the Berlin Wall. The German Air Force Band Erfurt, on hand to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, even brought Darth Vader with them.

Other highlights include the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Band whose precision was awe-inspiring as they moved through different formations, accompanied by amazing vocals and Kabuki work.

Speaking of precision, Australia’s Got Talent semi-finalists Black Diamond DrillDance Team turned simple walking into art, and used feather fans to pay glorious tribute to Freddy Mercury and Queen.

Sparing little expense, the Royal Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo brings acts from all over the world including the Black Diamond DrillDance Team from Australia.
Sparing little expense, the Royal Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo brings acts from all over the world including the Black Diamond DrillDance Team from Australia.

The most breath-taking moment of the evening though came from the USAF Honor Guard Drill Team. The precision of their movements; tossing bayonets over, under and around themselves was nail-biting, high level drama.

There is not a weak spot in the show. From the tiny highland dancers, to ten year-old violinists, and every age of armed forces member, the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo truly has something for everyone.

As a newcomer to Halifax I wasn’t sure what to expect. Were my years of theatrical involvement preparation enough for me to review the dismantling and reassembling of a jeep in under three minutes? Theatre? Maybe not. Dramatic? You bet.

By the time every performer in the Tattoo is on the arena floor for the finale, it is a truly jaw-dropping experience. And when you’re shoulder to shoulder with fellow Canadians singing the national anthem, backed by hundreds of voices and every instrument imaginable, it’s impossible not to feel your heart swell with pride for this wonderful country we live in.

The Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo continues at the Scotiabank Centre (1800 Argyle St, Halifax) through July 6. Visit nstattoo.ca for tickets and information.