We look at First Aid Kit, Single by Sunday and many more, at Belladrum 2017.
Mixing writing with performing my first act of the festival was First Aid Kit. The Swedish duo played The Garden Stage before Sister Sledge and had been subject to a switch with Feeder from Friday night, the switch appeared to suit both bands well. From the minute the duo started to perform the crowd were shown a pure heart warming, harmonic sound which appealed to all ages. Looking around there was a lot of swaying as the stories they told engaged their wide ranging audience.
For this performance the duo were accompanied by a drummer, pedal steel guitarist and keyboard player. As a member of a female duo I was both relaxed and inspired by their music and vocal harmonies. As the set progressed they changed style with the fourth song emphasising female power, and the audience movements became more energised.
The sixth song had an angry feel to it with a powerful message. The set closed as it started with gloriously melodic harmonies. This was my first time watching the duo and I was impressed by their wide ranging material and can see why their Brit Award nomination in 2015 will only be the tip of the iceberg for the band. (see photographs of First Aid Kit performing here).
Friday at Belladrum had so many acts I wanted to see and I found myself wishing I could split myself into two! After a wander around, the first act of the day we went to see was Single by Sunday who we had previously seen at XpoNorth. They were in the Hothouse, a great fit for the band, who soon had everyone jumping and singing along to their catchy song ‘Julie’. Although it was early in the day for the Hothouse, there was quite a large audience. The set was fun and full of energy, with the guitarist choosing to jump into the crowd. One comment I’ve heard them described as keeps coming back into my head, the ‘Glaswegian 5 Seconds of Summer’ and I think they probably appeal to a similar fan base. I can see them being a huge hit with a younger audience.
Walking over to the other side of Bella at the Free Range Stage was Mia Mackintosh who had a big supportive crowd to see her debut at Belladrum. It went well, she has a core group of fans who knew the words to her songs and sang along.
Having a set to play and a couple other sessions to do with (my band) Carma, my favourite part of the whole weekend, I didn’t have the time to go and see everyone I wanted on Friday. Although the rain poured most of the day and mud formed, everywhere you looked people were still smiling.
For me, going to see Spring Break at the Burke n Hare Stage has become a tradition at Belladrum, and I made sure I caught them again. Each year they seem to gain more fans. You can’t not enjoy yourself singing along to them and audience participation is very much part of the show.
We ended the night with another trip to the Hothouse to see headliners of the stage Twin Atlantic who I was very much looking forward to hearing. We couldn’t get near the tent which was full as well as the field it was in. Even though people could only hear the band there was still a party happening. Perhaps, with hindsight, this band should have been on the Garden Stage as they have obviously a huge following.
On Saturday we had no sets to do and wanted to see as many bands as we could fit in.
First we started the day off as many others did which was going to see Bloodlines at 12 in the Hothouse Stage. The tent was packed. The band have been busy this year but you could tell they were grateful to be asked to play back where they started at Belladrum. It was definitely the most energetic gig we have seen at 12 on a Saturday afternoon from both the band and the audience who were singing and jumping along.
Jamie, the lead singer, who was getting married later that afternoon, attempted to climb the stage scaffolding during the final song (leading to one of our favourite pictures of Belladrum – Ed) but health and safety intervened and stopped him. At the end, however, Bassist Steve Bull took his chance to crowd surf and jumped in! I can’t wait to see what this band have planned next. Stepping out of the tent into the sunshine for lunch was quite a shock after such a performance.
Our next stop was the Garden Stage to catch The Side. They were a late addition to the line up, only being asked to play last Tuesday. Although they only had a short time to prepare for this slot on the main stage, they put on a great performance ensuring the audience had fun with the catchy lyrics. Front of stage, there were some definite ‘The Side’ fans lapping up the tunes.
Next stop was The Potting Shed to watch a bit of cowboy Chuck Hawthorne whose soothing deep voice was easing the crowd into the day. At this point ,I have to say that I don’t know many places where you can go from seeing a Scottish rock band at 12 in the afternoon to a real Texas cowboy a couple hours later.
Along at the Free Range Stage again we saw Sam Cain take to the stage where he again played to a supportive large crowd. I have seen Sam a couple times live now and felt that this was the best he has ever sounded. Every time we passed the Free Range Stage it seemed busier, Bob Bull had a quality line up over the two days. One thing I missed were the hay bails which had been redirected to mud duty!
Taking a trip to the Seedlings Stage we caught Vistas who I think have been the new discovery for me at this year’s Belladrum, I had heard the name but had never seen the band and really enjoyed the style of music from the foursome. You can tell these guys are going to gain a big fan base in the next couple of years with their indie/rock style.
After their set finished we nipped over to the Hothouse Stage again to find out who Bossy Love was, I didn’t know what to expect from the name but found an electric/punk trio. Later I found that they are usually a duo so I’m not quite sure if the third member is here to stay. I didn’t really know what to think at first of the music but as everyone got more into it, the room started to move a bit and felt a very 90s vibe. It wasn’t the punk style of the 70s and early 80s, more a ‘sweet’ punk.
By now I was wishing I had a ‘Fit Bit’ as we were racking up the steps.
I’ve followed Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 on social media for a couple of years and have watched their popularity grow but have not seen them live before. It was a treat and fitted in with the theme of love and peace for Belladrum. It was a very visual performance including a blow up unicorn and flamingo and yellow balloons (you can see all the colour here). I particularly liked the yellow keyboard. At one point I found myself, along with the rest of the audience, “crossing the road” from one side to the other singing along.
One band that I have been looking forward to seeing the year was I See Rivers, who I saw last year for the first time, they were just as good with the perfect practised harmonies and quirky sounds that seem to hypnotise the audience. The trio from Norway have a very light and happy presence on stage and brought in the audience to the Grassroots Stage.
The next act we saw was again at the Grassroots Stage was a bit of JR Green who also had the crowd swaying with the mellow tone and slow Scottish hint to the music. They have a unique sound that I didn’t hear anywhere else in the festival. Belladrum is full of original artists and we are lucky to have such a festival on our doorstep.
After watching a memorable performance by Birdy, KT Tuntstall took to the main stage slightly late because of sound issues. Sitting on the hill we felt the vocal could have been louder for KT although it was still a great set with her playing the favourites and everyone singing along. I felt like her voice had got raspier and she has definitely changed her sound, increasing the digital sounds as her music develops.
Too soon it was time to say goodbye. Can’t wait until next year although I’m hoping it won’t be quite so muddy.
WHAT HAVE YOU MISSED? All our other Belladrum 2017 interviews, reviews and photographs can be found here.
Check our our review of Friday night below