A review of Friday at Rockness 2013, featuring Post War Years, Jessie Ware, The Maccabees, Basement Jaxx and The Boy who Trapped the Sun.
As we arrived at Rockness, we were treated to a very different view from the entrance and the campsite as in previous years. In the past these features on the site have been across the hill, but now these look straight across the Loch with stunning views down the Great Glen, a delight to wake up to in the morning for the weekend residents. Despite the saying “bigger is better,” this new compact festival site is very customer friendly, allowing campers access directly from the main stage and back to their tents, shortening the walk greatly.
The first act of the festival for us were Post War Years, an indie electronic quartet, combining both digital instruments with guitars, bass and drums, sounding to me like an up-beat Hurts, or an electronic KOBI. Early in the set came a question from their front man, Simon (“Is everybody drunk and burnt yet?”) to which a roar came up from the crowd, of a surprisingly high number for so early in the day. The band seemed like a good way to start things off, with their dynamic performance of both chilled out and upbeat music, with 3 way vocal harmonies.
As arguably the first major artist at the festival, the crowd began to form early for Jessie Ware, with many screaming at the front barrier. Chants of “here we fucking go” as she approached the stage, the crowd still building in numbers. Chilled out urban music and catchy choruses proved her very popular with the public, with her set including tracks such as “Devotion” and “Dancing On My Own”.
Despite the clash with pop sensation Ellie Goulding, The Maccabees fans still arrived early, keen for them to get the show started. Starting with a track seemingly unknown to the fans, they still managed to keep up the enthusiasm. With the second song starting more mellow, they seemed to be losing interest, but by the end of the song they had pulled the whole arena into a frenzy of clapping along. The 6 piece played mainly newer songs for the first half of the set, but later they pulled tracks from the archives like “Pelican”, “First Love” and crowd favourite, “Love You Better”. A very strong set overall from these veterans of indie.
Colin Macleod – better known as The Boy Who Trapped The Sun – was the first act that I witnessed inside the Black Isle Brewery Stage. “My album a few years ago was predominantly about women trying to kill me” he mentioned after playing a new song, a theme that recurs often. The next song “Dreaming Like A Fool” (about the “one where a woman actually came at me with a knife.”) was very well received with many singing along in the now busying tent. Colin has an often very soft but powerful style, and with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” he managed to make it his own. His set including tracks such as “Fireplace”, “Home” and finishing with a new song, a country style stomper had the whole tent joining in. A great set from the man from Stornaway, and a potential highlight from the festival.
Closing day one of the festival were Basement Jaxx, a group who have previously headlined RockNess in 2009. Indian headdresses, robes, crow outfits and brass instruments; something that may seem either mad or eccentric to read, but no-one in attendance could deny that Basement Jaxx know how to put on a show. With a whole catalogue of singers, and some extraordinary outfits, they rocketed through a set of hits including “Oh My Gosh”, “Do Your Thing”, an acoustic version of “Romeo” and a short orchestral rendition of my personal favourite track “Raindrops” and finishing their set off with “Where’s Your Head At?”, a gorilla on stage, prior to a short break and an encore. A truly excellent set, showing why they were asked back to headline; even in my soberest state I couldn’t resist dancing along with the thousands of others. A great way to end a great first day.
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