Day One at Brew at the Bog 2015 with The Broken Ravens, Lindsey Black, The Lorelei, Lionel and Campfires in Winter. A review.

New Broken Ravens front man, Toby Michaels
New Broken Ravens front man, Toby Michaels

The Broken Ravens had the honour of opening the main stage, unfortunately this was at about the same time as the gates opened so the vast majority of BrewBoggers were still getting their bearings and the attendance was low. However those who were there were appreciated and the ‘Ravens put on their usual high voltage performance. Albeit it was one that was slightly weary, but who could blame them after a marathon hike back up from a couple of successful shows down in London.

Toby Michaels has taken over vocal duties from Bugsy and first impressions are good. Toby is well known already to Inverness audiences from his tenure with ‘Rolling Damned’ and can always be relied upon to put on a good show. Vocally he’s different from Bugsy with a slightly wider range, where vocally Bugsy had the menace and the glower, Toby has charisma and power. The Broken Raven’s sound hasn’t changed a huge amount as a result and the band are still very much going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Lindsey Black
Lindsey Black on the Northern Roots stage

Lindsey Black over on the Northern Roots stage was introduced by Bruce Macgregor as having produced one of the finest albums of the last year. If Friday’s set was anything to go by it’s going on my ‘go buy’ list after the festival is finished.

Playing a set of tracks from ‘Raising Storm, vocally she reminded me an awful lot of Eva Cassidy, the warmth of the songs banishing that early May chill and pulling in a good number people too, impressive considering it was still early on in the day.

If any band can be depended on to get the party started then The Lorelei are that band. Front man, the ever jovial John Martin (not sure I’ve ever seen him without a smile since his days with the Dawntreaders back in 199… something!) leads everyone in a quick spot of Lor-aerobics to get everyone warmed up before launching into half an hours worth of folk-rock chaos.

The Lorelei
The Lorelei

The band could be described as veterans (possibly not to their faces of course) but they easily match the energy of bands half their age and quickly get the Northern Roots tent bouncing along while John conducts the band and the audience with all the energy of a demented three-year-old who overdosed on Haribo. Probably one of the best performances I’ve seen from them and with a new album due out they’re not going to be done any time soon.

Down on the main stage, the cold appears to be keeping people away, which is a shame because they miss a solid sent from the increasingly impressive Lionel. Delivering tight jagged riffs and an easy assured charisma they do their best to liven up a frigid looking bunch on the field over-looking Moray Firth Ben Wyvis. I think this is the fourth time I’ve seen them over the past year and they’re clearly beginning to make something of a name for themselves.

Campfires in Winter
Campfires in Winter warm up the main stage audience

Campfires in Winter are one of the more aptly named bands for this weekend (along with The Winter Tradition), it really is bloody freezing in front of the main stage but that doesn’t put off a sizeable crowd from watching them play a set of bleak soulful rock. Gazing to the right looking over a snowy Ben Wyvis the location couldn’t be any better and fits perfectly with the music. Winter is coming but I wish it would bugger off for a bit!

There’s no getting away from the fact that the weather at Brew at the Bog has been unkind since its inception four years ago.

There have been a number of calls for it to be moved later in the year and at one point the organisers seriously considered it. However judging by the comments from regulars, it’s not a move that would be broadly supported.The cold keeps away the Neds and those that attend the festival really are genuine music fans who aren’t going to let a little brisk wind get in their way of enjoying what’s on offer.

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I've always loved music and spent my late teens and early twenties playing guitar in various bands on Lewis and Aberdeen. Other than playing in some truly terrifying pubs in Aberdeen not much came of it and life became focused on family and having a 'proper' job. Inverness Gigs is an outlet for me to quell my inner frustrated musician and the caliber of local acts has even inspired me to take my own music more seriously again. Who knows, one day I might venture back on stage under the fierce scrutiny of an Inverness Gigs reviewer!You can contact Toby direct at Toby@Igi.gs