Live review: Belladrum Tartan Heart festival: Saturday, 4/8/12

Harshly woken from slumber by Belladrum’s annual alarm clock – a pipe band marching through the campsite – it’s time to pull the wellys back on and start afresh.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day and we’re feeling shaken.

Today Belladrum continues to support Scottish acts: Donald Macdonald and the Islands, The Elephant Sessions, Niteworks and the theatrical Treacherous Orchestra each play individual, exciting sets with similar influences; a testament to the malleability of Celtic music.

Olympic Swimmers are surprisingly underwhelming, their light, ethereal sound loses itself in the festival setting; I would imagine they would suit a more intimate venue.

There is potential for them to be hypnotic and haunting – previous reviews and adoring fans with a huge handmade Olympic Swimmers flag would certainly support that theory.

Frightened Rabbit steal the show on Saturday having cancelled last year, the eager crowd has been waiting for a long time and the band do not disappoint.

They have an understated live playing style that lets the songs stand out and the crowd‘s lips hang on every lyric in their repertoire.

Understandable highlights include ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ and ‘Nothing Like You’ though in honesty every song is fantastic.

It seems that the love between Belladrum and Frightened Rabbit is mutual: “it’s such a great festival” says Scott Hutchison “…we’re not playing T in the Park this year so we’re free to play smaller festivals.

“I mean, T in the Park is a massive thing for a Scottish band but this is so much fun.”

Frightened Rabbit’s next album is finished but first expect a five-song EP called State Hospital due for release in September.

Travis close the festival on Saturday night, each introduction from The Man Who brings a reminiscent rush that is highly enjoyable but ultimately headliner’s crown goes to pioneers of Scottish hip-hop Stanley Odd.

Completely contrasting much of today’s line up, Stanley Odd end the evening with relevant, political and witty rap.

Having a talented female vocalist really helps to give the band a structure to their music which makes the audience feel familiar with their songs.

The full band adds an electro element which sounds very current and has the crowd absolutely jumping.

Considering it was only released in June ‘Get Out Ma Headspace’ is received like a classic and rapped along to as if it was a Scottish ’99 Problems’.

After generously taking the time to speak to a young fan that sees them regularly, the band speak about their performance: “it was good fun! We played a lot of new songs so we were a bit on edge but we absolutely loved it.”

Waving goodbye to the young boy, they continue: “we’ve got a really broad age range of fans; at this kind of festival there’s some right wee’uns, so you have to edit.”

I explain to the band that they gave a refreshing finish to my festival: “aye, sometimes (when we play live) we have to compromise, certain bleeps and blops get missed out” they laugh “…actually, the way we write songs is probably quite different from other bands, we record a demo, then we take it into a studio and sample it, we listen to ourselves and then piece the song together again differently.

“So basically, once we’re finished we have a song that we have never actually played that way before; it’s a hip hop ethic.”

The band are excited to be touring and releasing their new album, Rejects, in September – catch them at Stereo on September 20 and get excited too.

(Highlights – including an interview and session from Donald MacDonald and the Islands – are available on BBC Alba).

Words: Leonie Colmar


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