MDA reviews the Friday at Belladrum 2012.


It hardly seems a year since Belladrum 2011, and will probably feel less than a year before Belladrum 2013 arrives. For now though, its time to bask in the glory that was Belladrum 2012.

A couple of noticeable improvements from last year which became apparent as we arrived on the Thursday and would continue for the most part through the weekend was the security and the public toilets (well those supplied by Heiland Loos). Some may think these points are not important, but they can make or break the weekend!

And so to the music.

With the nature of festivals, you never seem to catch everything you want to see and the acts you do see, it rarely seems to be a full set. In addition, I am one of a few thousand and as such, this is my little story of what I experienced this year at Belladrum.  There will be another 14,000 plus tales to tell by others.


Friday became a bit of reacquainting with old friends for this writer. First up was James Mackenzie on the main stage. I arrived about mid set through what was the opening main stage act of the weekend. James has worked very hard over the past couple of years and deserved his moment on the main stage, and there was a decent  turnout for this early afternoon performance. Joined onstage by Bruce MacGregor (the Angus Young of the fiddle), the two charismatic individuals belted there way through James folk rock material. With his determination we will see James make a success of himself in some shape or form some time in the coming years.

Next up was local lads Last Summer Effect in the Seedlings tent. Having watched the lads various times throughout the last six months, it was fantastic to see just how far they have come in this time. Six months ago, you could see they were a bit of a rough diamond where as now, a lot of those rough edges have been polished until they are bright and gleaming. The song writing is gone up a few notches, and  ‘Heroes’ was one of my favourites of the weekend. A good producer (of the rock variety) and a bit of luck, and its a radio friendly stomper. Front man Chris possesses a sharp wit and can handle the crowd, while the rest of the band, some displaying naked torsos much to the excitement of the ladies have a new found confidence that should see them up the ladder to the next point. They had one of the best turnouts of the day on this stage, again down to there tireless promotion of the gig.

Between bouncy castles and bungee rides with a seven year old, catching music in the afternoon would always be difficult, but i made a point of heading to the Potting Shed around 3pm to see Lewis Hamilton and The Boogie Brothers. I first discovered them last year on the music site ‘Reverbnation’ while they always seemed to be one place above my band on the Scottish chart. Great bit of blues, some tasty guitar work and some very simple but powerful numbers played by a three piece. After covering a Ray Charles number, Lewis invited North East blues legend Gerry Jablonski up on-stage for an impromptu jam and the boogie and the blues went into overdrive.


Then came the moment I had been waiting for, at just after five on the main stage. Vintage Trouble have earned their fan base up here through contestant touring and the fact they are just the nicest, unassuming bunch of guys you could meet. The LA rock soulsters started off their set with current single and slow number ‘Not Alright By Me’ before building it into more up-tempo numbers and getting the very large crowd going. With favourites like ‘Blues Hand Me Down’ and ‘Nancy Lee’, Vintage Trouble once again raised the standard which would be very hard for anyone to top. In line with their true spirit and the regard the hold for their audience, at the end of their set, they went up to the barriers, jumped over them and went and mingled with the crowd. True gents. I’m hoping they will come back up this way again soon. My biggest disappointment of the weekend was to later find out I had missed an impromptu set by the band on the Potting Shed stage at 10pm.


Then to the ‘secret artist’. Over a week ago, it seemed to be very certain that the act in question would be Kassidy, and sure enough, at around half past six they appeared onstage (the KSDY flight cases kind of gave it away). I can’t say I am particularly a fan, and the start of the set didn’t do anything for me, however, once they were joined by their rhythm section they seemed to come alive and I found myself being more drawn to them as their set went on. I need to go and listen to their latest album to see if what I seen on Friday transgresses for me, maybe, maybe not.

Through the rest of the Friday, I caught brief glimpses of various artists all be it in a fleeting manner. Rachel Sermani was as ever quirky, serene and haunting in the last two numbers of her set that I managed to catch. This is a local lass that is very different and has a great future, Scotland’s modern day answer to Kate Bush perhaps? The Wombats were playing when I passed the main stage, but apart from a brief pause I didn’t really take them in The Buzzcocks were playing to old and new fans down the hill on the hothouse stage but after a couple of numbers I decided it wasn’t for me and was pleased to catch my old friend Davy Cowan playing on the Potting Shed stage as I was heading out of the arena. Along with Rachel,Steve, Derek and Robin (tonight’s Storm Chasers) they were ‘storming’ through some of Coinneach’s finest moments including many from their last album from 2002 which I was lucky enough to work with them on.

Time for bed. Time to refresh the batteries and get ready for day 2.

Further features from Belladrum are here