We look at Louie and the Lochbacks, BooHooHoo, The Oxides  and more, at Northern Roots 17.

Opening the main stage were The Oxides who delivered a treat of a set to the early arrivals. The in form Oxides set down a marker on the main stage with a top of their game performance. Delivered with conviction and passion they firmly held those that lent them an ear. As lead vocalist Jake would say ‘Spot on, eh?’ Sure was mun.

A quick scan of the schedule and noted that Louie and the Lochbacks were in the Barn. This is a mini supergroup with Louie, once of Hector Bizerk but now generally considers himself retired from performing. Aiding him, and in particular providing a vocal scaffold for Louie, was a forward line of Charlotte Brimner (of Be Charlotte) and two of Pronto Mama’s finest, Ciaran McEneny and Marc Rooney.

Tonight these vocals were both supportive and almost ecclesiastic in the church that the barn became as Louie delivered his spoken word from his ‘bible’ that he held. The delivery was powerful, emotive and thought provoking. One piece involving a list of ‘next poems’ began witty and somewhat flippant but ended with a devastating twist. At the end one punter shouted ‘Stay out of retirement Louie!’. A sentiment echoed by many in the room.

The Lorelei were outside on the main stage creating a little bit of mayhem and encouraging the first of the evening’s dancers. It’s an infectious cacophony of rock, punk, folk, and you name it it will probably be in there. If you didn’t dance you at least had a big smile on your face. It was feel good, or feel better than you did before you heard them.

BooHooHoo were next back in the Barn. Heavy on the synths this is the millennials’ take on eighties pop. Although it leans heavily towards the 21st century there are Talking Heads and even Siouxsie Sioux nods in there. They rounded off their half hour with a cover of Phil Collins and Philip Bailey’s ‘Easy Lover’. As much as this was fun it was also something that they pulled off with aplomb. They can do eighties but they can do a hell of a lot more.

Viper Swing are an act which capture the heart and origins of Northern Roots. You would swear that they are straight out of interwar USA however this band are based in Edinburgh. I’m no expert on the genre but they play with a more fluid pan-European feel stretching from cafe culture to the Balkans. I think they caught a lot of the audience by surprise and a more focussed indoor appearance may have suited better to give full appreciation of the style and character of the band. That and a Gin Rickey to hand too.

Iain McLaughlin and the Outsiders then brought their expansive sound to the main stage. This powerhouse of a band are suited to this environment so much so that thirty minutes never feels long enough. Joined by Kris Douglas (Dr Wook) on a couple of numbers to give vocal depth. New song ‘Home’ although reflecting on Iain’s relationship and upcoming marriage was a song of strength and not some sentimental twaddle and I would expect no less from Iain. Overall it was a rattling set which the Outsiders are renowned for.

It may have been getting chilly outside but it was warm in The Bothy where Dr Wook had hot footed it over from the main stage. The Bothy was set out with old church pews facing towards the low platform stage. The pews with beer keg and wooden topped tables to hold drinks not something the makers of the pews would have envisaged.

This was my first visit and the room was busy but Dr Wook held his own, and more, to keep the festival audience quiet and attentive. In amongst his own material he delivers a stripped back and still captivating cover of New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’. ‘Grace From Below’, his final song, may not have ended quite the way that Dr Wook would have wanted but he was still able to finish with a smile on his face, and that of the audience too.

As I was never a boy scout my motto has never been ‘Be Prepared’. I wasn’t a complete shambles but in terms of taking more than a t-shirt and hoodie I was caught a little short. When I left Inverness to head up to Bogbain there was still some warmth in the air but by now there was a creeping chill as I caught a fleeting view of The Little Kicks on my way out.

Check out more on Northern Roots 2017 here


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Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy. A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre. Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy. You can contact Frank direct via frankieboyfin@gmail.com