Hot weather…hot line up….and a bloody great big wickerman on fire!!! only at the Wickerman Festival can you find that combination!!! This year was the 13th year was to be no less eclectic with the likes of Dizzee Rascal sharing the same stage as The Zombies and with10 stages and hundreds of acts meant you would be hard pressed not to find something to please most people. 5 piece indie folk band Skinny Lister put on a cracking performance in the early afternoon hot sun on the Summerisle Stage bringing some of the Glastonbury vibe with them. Local band and Wickerman regulars Finding Albert played a blinder, their infectious indie style was a real hit with the Wicker crowd …maybe being local lads helped as well. If we had been in Glasgow the next band would more than likely have sold out the venue….Prides are the band of the moment in the Glasgow scene but we’re at The Wickerman and its early afternoon and the cool kids are still in their tents or more likely beds!! A relatively quiet reception for this great band. When I heard Augustines were on the bill I was ecstatic , Ive watched the come from an unlisted band supporting Glasvegas to being one of the hottest bands worldwide!!! Unfortunately their set was plagued by technical glitches…the frustration evident on Billy McCarthy’s face….This wasn’t to be their festival which was a great shame as they are an excellent band who I thought would have set the festival on fire!! Like Nile Rogers and Chic last year the organisers brought another mega star to the line up…Martha Reeves and the Vandellas who have had hits with some of the most famous Motown songs ever…Nowhere To Run, Jimmy Mack and Dancing In The Street to name a few. Now 73 and flanked by her two sisters Lois and Delphine they prove they still have the power to deliver these famous songs…. Maybe they should have been further up the bill and played when the crowd were getting into the groove.
Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 win the award for having the largest band… all 13 (I think) and boy do they know how to party, basically a fun band but these guys are tight…and very very good, they engage the audience and packed out the Solus tent…heck they even had a dance off that included a blow up crocodile.
As the sun set it cast a beautiful golden glow over the site the awesome Alabama 3 took to the stage and absolutely smashed it!!! Fronted by Larry Love, Wayne Love and the super talented Aurora Dawn I challenge you not to dance, they describe their music as motherfucking acid house, country blues and that really describes them perfectly.. amazing… for me the band of the festival.
This festival has been accused of billing has beens and when Shed Seven were announced yes the same was said again but Shed Seven proved them all wrong and won over the crowd on a hot summers night and played an amazing set, one of the best live bands around with lead singer Rick Witter launching himself into the audience on more than one occasion.
Dizzee Rascal must be the most unlikey Wickerman act I could think of but again the organisers played a blinder billing him……the whole audience changed as the younger crowd took the place of their parents to get close to the hiphop/garage mega star and boy he delivered …big style as the ground litteraly shook with the heavy bass and the air was filled with ticker tape.
Saturday dawns and the heat of the previous day has dissipated to make way to a more tolerable temperature, The Cut Throat Razors open the main stage to a sparse audience of bleary eyed revelers… maybe not the best time to make your Wickerman debut. Liverpool band The Tea Street Band…are exactly the type of band you want to hear on a summer’s afternoon. Their trippy music is not just to be listened to its to be experienced. Mid afternoon and the crowds were building nicely for Scary People, the lads from Dundee are starting to make noises in the vibrant Scottish scene. Their new single Guided By The Blind is a belter and is a highlight of their great if not short set.
Biig Country are always going to be a crowd puller and getting them to play The Wickerman festival was a master stroke, original members Bruce Watson and Mark Brzeziki are joined by Jamie Watson (Bruce’s son), Derek Forbes (Simple Minds) and Simon Hough to play and absolute blinding set transporting the crowd back to days of Countryborn hairspray and plaid shirts….magic. Choices are plenty at this festival so next I choose to leave the mainstage and the Zombies to catch one of the original punk bands The Members in the Scooter tent, now minus Nicky Tesco JC Carrol takes up vocal duties and takes us on a musical journey back through the years with amusing anecdotes about the songs he wrote and of course some excellent playing despite his dodgy moustache.
A couple of years ago British Sea Power seemed to be the darlings of the indie music scene appearing in magazines and music publications everywhere but I would bet that most of the family oriented crowd have never heard of them as they took to the Summerisle stage, a bit of a strange choice by the promoters and so far up the Saturday night bill….not to be put off by the rain and seeming disinterested crowd the band played well and as if to bolster the crowds interest they brought on two giant bears…usually reserved for their encores..
For most of the weekend the weather had been brilliant but just as The Feeling took the stage the heavens opened and the rain poured down which was a huge shame but lead singer Dan Gillespie apologised for the weather and went on to play a brilliant set. After Alabama 3 the second best performance of the festival, not to be judged by their recorded work they are one heck of a live act.
Del Amitri were the anointed band to bring the festival music to a close and set the scene for the burning. After their amazing appearance at The Hydro in Glasgow big things were expected from the Del boys, they did not fail to deliver and played a super set.
The traditional burning of the Wickerman based on the cult 70’s film is both the high and low point of the festival as its spectacular fireworks are brilliant but it also closes the festival for another year….
As usual the bands and acts missed far outnumbered the small sample featured in this review, so many bands I wanted to see in the Go North and Solus tents but didn’t manage due to a rammed schedule, on the positive the organisers yet again pulled off another successful festival despite competition from the commonwealth games whist maintaining their policy of featuring new emerging Scottish bands and of course the eclectic nature of the event.
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