We look at Deaf Havana, Honeyblood,100 Fables  and more, at Belladrum 2017

Arriving on site I noticed that Glasgow pop punk outfit Single By Sunday were about to strike up. I’ve seen them a couple of times in the last two years (most recently at the Ironworks) and are an improving band not short on enthusiasm and drive. There is more of the same here and the festival setting gave them a harder edge and although the sound is a little generic, and it’s tough not to be within the pop punk genre, but they have relatable songs and their natural bounce brought the crowd along with them. They are still on the upward part of the curve and I’m sure we will be hearing more from these boys if this continues.

The Seedlings stage, my next stop, was a larger affair than previous years and this gave it a proper festival feel; too often overlooked by many in favour of larger stages but it has more of a presence this year. Lilura, who I saw at XpoNorth, was just about to start. Lilura, accompanied by an electronica backing and a sole drummer creates a stark landscape overlaid with strong beats and a theatrical delivery. Dark disco so to speak or witch pop as Lilura describes on social media. It is somewhat beguiling and the musical structure and performance dictates that. Lilura is an enigma but that I believe is what makes the act more interesting. That and giving out fake tattoos and drinks to the grown ups…

Following on from Lilura were 100 Fables another act I had the pleasure of catching at XpoNorth. They were fantastic that night in the Phoenix and was worth seeing if they maintained my interest on a second viewing. Well they started where they left off, with an extra guitar compared to that night thrown in for good measure. The band are a bundle of energy with great chemistry and interplay throughout the set. It’s a whirlwind from start to finish lead by vocalist, Lyndsey Liora, who’s voice and raw energy fills the enlarged tent. Guitar driven with a maelstrom of influences of 80s new wave with classic rock tinges. There is a bit of Paramore, but also Wendy James, Lene Lovich and Debbie Harry swirling in there too. The style may hark back to previous years but I believe they should have a future too. That and the high kicks, can’t forget the high kicks.

Honeyblood are to me a band suited for the Hothouse Stage atmosphere and not the late afternoon eclectic mix that tends to dominate the garden stage but garden stage they were and even in the continuous rain they more than held their own and if anything grew the crowd. A bit like Royal Blood you have to count the numbers, and it’s only two, and still not understand where such a full sound is coming from! Rattling and punky from the start and great audience participation with broken drumsticks for the best dancers in the audience. Highlights were the petulantly performed “All Dragged Up’, ‘Sea Hearts’ and not because of its tequila reference, and ‘Babes Never Die’ which ended the set triumphantly. Check out photos of the gig here.

The Grassroots Stage hosted Benjamin Francis Leftwich who has always enthused about his appearances in the north from the first time I saw him play before a handful at Eden Court’s One Touch Theatre. That may have been a handful but today it was oh so very different. His songs are subtle in their delivery but strong on fans’ attachment, certainly going by the group around me. Old favourites ‘Pictures’ from near the start of the set and ‘Atlas Hands’ but to me the highlights were ‘Summer’ and ‘Shine’ which had a further upbeat quality attached to it which I haven’t picked out before and this was on such a dreich day!

Deaf Havana were the prelude to Twin Atlantic but unfortunately due to some sort of ‘kerfuffle’, the band’s word to explain whatever technical difficulties arose, they started 10 minutes late meaning a shortened set of 35 minutes. That didn’t hold them back as they threw out an energy sapping set. Loud, punchy and more melodic than I imagined as a newbie to them. The crowd grew throughout no doubt in anticipation of the arrival of Twin as headliners but they didn’t hang around, hands in pockets looking lost they got fully involved. High calibre band who could easily have headlined this stage.

It looks like I missed the memo when it came to Twin Atlantic (catch the pictures of the Twin Atlantic set) as I was under the belief that they were still playing at 10.00 as were many sections of the audience in the Hothouse when small pockets of booing would start as tech crew wandered the stage as 10.00 passed. Similarly hopeful cheers would rise whenever the lights took on a different hue. I did hear later that there was an announcement on social media of the change in scheduling but could see no sign of this at the stage or on site. I may just have been in the wrong places at the wrong time.

With my timings reliant on a 1100 departure, as writing doesn’t do it itself, I caught the first few Twin songs after a further 10 minute delay to the rearranged time. Certainly once they took to the stage the tent erupted and the pent up energy of the packed tent was let loose like a well shaken can of Strongbow. I left them to it and those on the hill who had secured a vantage point.

Overall, the rain didn’t dampen too many spirits and today the forecast looked much more favourable and I hope that access in and out of the site is such that it is smooth and trouble free today as alternate arrangements were being made last night as parts of the car park suffered. Credit to the organisers for taking steps to make those changes.

All that remained was for everyone to have had a great Saturday…

WHAT HAVE YOU MISSED?  All our other Belladrum 2017 interviews, reviews and photographs can be found 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