MDA continues his review of Belladrum…
Saturday started as a reasonably bright and promising day. As people emerged from their campsites and the Saturday ticket holders arrived, the arena opened for another onslaught of music and culture.
First up for me today was the small diminutive frame of Lucy Rose with a gentle and sometimes haunting voice appearing at the Black Isle tent. Her songs were quirky, dramatic and serious, yet gentle. A young girl with a lot of talent and spirit (she had traveled all night sitting on the train from London and only arrived at the site about 2 hours before going onstage). This was one of those interesting little finds you could only come across at a festival.
Down at the Potting Shed next, came the screaming blues guitar of the legendary Gerry Jablonski. Aberdeen’s answer to the late great Gary Moore. I can only assume that Gerry has stuck to the smaller gigging venues around the country by choice, as this unique and gifted bluesman has certainly earned his place alongside more famous guitarists. Walking away with my foot tapping and my head nodding, another talented guitarist was on my ‘must-see’ list.
Newton Faulkner on the main stage was unsurprisingly a popular draw. What the guy does on his own up on stage is amazing, but for me, I think I would have enjoyed him better in a smaller up close and personal environment, but that just me, the few thousand who gathered probably would disagree.
I headed back to the Black Isle tent next to catch Roddy Hart. I only came across him recently online and loved what I heard. Live, Roddy is as good if not better than on record. A feast of great catchy songs that should be making a far bigger impact on our ‘so-called’ local radio than they obviously are.
Next, it was time to take a mad rush down to the Hothouse stage to see Sound of Guns. This Liverpool rock act have started to get noticed around the country and I can see why with their anthemic songs, sing along choruses and chunky guitar rifts. It was loud and my six year old loved it (a little rocker in the making!!). If you like bands like Funeral for a Friend etc, you’ll love this lot.
For the finale, I decided against my better judgement to catch Deacon Blue on the main stage. When Texas were announced, some people groaned, but I was always confident they would be great which I personally think was proven, when Deacon Blue were announced, I said, not a headliner. Unfortunately, once again I was proved right. Dire Blue started with a mumble and it didn’t get much better until finally the hits started, but by then, the heavens had opened and many of the crowd had started to head for the exit. I regret not leaving earlier to catch Kassidy.
Overall as every year, I enjoyed my Belladrum experience, but there are a few issues that Joe (Gibb) and organisers of the festival really need to address. Firstly, think long and hard when choosing headline acts, Deacon Blue were a wrong choice (Bjorn Again, Adam Ant, Nik Kershaw to name a few who have played here in recent times have more hits and better rapport with the crowd). Secondly, if an act has a massive hit and they are not on the main stage, move them (Ed Sheeran should be a good blueprint for that). Thirdly, Showsec Security. Their contract needs to be looked at with the same harshness that some of their staff dished out to innocent well meaning festival goers (I wish I had taken a photograph of the cutlery taken off folk at the general camping and I heard mallets had been taken off people too,iGiGs). Finally, the toilets this year were not as well maintained as previous years, Heiland Loos aside were exceptional. The other overwhelming aspect of this year was the Biblical rain which literaly washed some people out of their tents, but we need to take that up with Mother Nature!
All that aside, roll on Bella 2012.