This years Wickerman see’s the beginning of a new era for the friendly festival with new promoters and a new captain in charge. Last year saw the untimely death of co-founder Jamie Gilroy but rather than cancel the event his daughter Jennie Camm decided to take the reigns and push ahead as normal. As a tribute to her dad she requested that festivalgoers emulate her father’s love for flamboyant waistcoats and wear the loudest they could get their hands on.
As in usual Wickerman tradition another eclectic line up was in store for the equally eclectic audience.. Not many places where you’ll find Steve Ignorant share the same field as Lulu and with headliners as diverse as The Waterboys, Example, The Vaselines and the Sonics theres no chance of not finding something to suit most tastes and the grub aint half bad either!!
Lets get one thing straight…its July 24th….yeah summer but with temperatures hovering in the high 14teens!!! Somebody has forgotten to tell the great weather god in the sky its supposed to be warm if not hot!! Maybe we need to sacrifice a virgin to please him…well at least it stayed dry.
Friday saw extrovert Julian Cope take to the main stage in some very dodgy attire but his performance and anecdotes made up for his dodgy wardrobe choice, he was followed by in my opinion one of the performances of the festival…Stereo MC’S were on fire and gave a blistering performance with frontman Rob Birch making full use of the full ge and really capturing the crowds attention. New to the festival was The Piano Bar introduced by Jennie Camm where Lulu performed a very intimate set to raise funds for the cancer charity Maggies. Later the seasoned performer showed why she’s still top of her game when she gave a captivating performance on the main stage. Penultimate headliners on Friday were new wave popsters Squeeze who delighted the crowd with a set full of hits dating back to the late 70’s. Friday’s main stage headliners The Waterboys bring a truly eclectic day of music to an end in fine style, Mike Scott looking fit and confident delivered a set comprising of songs from their extensive back catalogue and from the great new album ‘Modern Blues’. Opening with ‘A Fisherman’s Blues’ and setting the tone for a triumphant Wickerman debut.
Saturday saw a plethora of bleary-eyed revelers queuing at the many burger vans to fuel up for another day of music, beer and keeping the kids entertained!! Cheltenham lads Young Kato gave an impressive performance despite the early afternoon slot and won over the small crowd who cheered them on. Baby Strange are a brilliant Glasgow and again despite the early start packed out the Scooter tent. Modern day minster and self confessed grump RM Hubbard struck a lonely figure on the vast expanses of the main stage, his amazing guitar skills and wonderful song writing abilities shone brighter than the sun high in the summer’s sky. Alan Mcgee’s latest discovery Alias Kid played an absolute belter on the festival’s newest stage in the Phoenix Tent reinforcing the hype that’s circulating in the music press and photographers were clambering over each other to grab some iconic shots of indie music’s saviors…..
Festival highlight came in the form of ska band Esperanza who managed to get the Scooter tent closed as punters clambered to get into the party atmosphere generated by this excellent band.
Neneh Cherry for many was a surprise addition to the main stage line up but an electrifying performance proved her critics wrong as she managed to gather a huge crowd to the stage front, this with some beautiful summer’s evening sunshine proved to be a winner for the festival organisers. Next came one of the best Wickerman performances since Nile Rogers and Chic…Jimmy Cliff must be one of the best known singers ever…. everybody knows at least one song he has performed and the air was thick with expectation when his band started so when he came on stage seated with a drum disappointedly we thought we’re in for a pretty laid back show….then boom!!! after the first song a strange version of ‘Rivers Of Babylon’ the 76 year old jumps to his feet delivers a high kick and a high energy amazing performance full of hits..brilliant just brilliant. Festival veterans (they’ve played before) Hector Bizerk make a return appearance to the Scooter tent this year and absolutely nail it with an exciting hard-hitting performance.
Before the ritual burning of The Wickerman effigy there was a choice of headliners Example on the main stage or veteran garage band The Sonics in the Scooter tent……no contest The Sonics demanded my lens and my attention and what a band they are, these guys despite their aherm!! advancing years can rock and for me were the outstanding act at this years festival.
Boom…fizz…bang …whizz and the impressive Phoenix Wickerman sculpture is reduced to a pile of glowing embers with the usual impressive firework show and the festival for many is over and the throngs of people head for the gates unless of coarse your off to the dance tent ….
Rumours are circulating that this will be the last Wickerman Festival, lets hope these are not true as this festival has become a regular date in many peoples calendar and provides an escape from the rigours of modern life at least for a couple of days
All images © Stuart Westwood Photography 2015
Full gallery HERE