Saturday, August 08, 2015

Musings on Belladrum

Rob Ellen's Medicine Music Potting Shed Stage is on the busy outskirts of the Belladrum site, just opposite a vintage ice cream van that exudes the lure of the past; its colour is pure vanilla and it's ice creams are the nectar of the gods...
Where was I? Oh yes: Belladrum is nothing like Glastonbury, where we went through eleven checkpoints and had the van searched, only to arrive at a final checkpoint where the helpers were so stoned that they didn't know where our stage was.
Belladrum's guides are cheery, positive and do a good return of serve if you wisecrack at 'em.
We got through no trouble and wandered up to the stage past people dressed as super heroes, kids hula-hooping, hippies, hipsters, bands and artists on their way up, and bands and artists on their way down. I was delighted to be playing (thank you Rob) and had the greatest of fun especially when a guy in the crowd played silent trombone solos (should that be air trombone?) during Snakebite and Freight Train. I met a lot of people that I'd only heard about (there are many legendary doings in this part of Scotland) and sang my heart out. The sun even came out during Summer Days!
Afterwards we headed back to pick up The Daintees, who were playing the Grass Roots Tent (enormous). Before their gig we called in at Henry's Woodland Orchestra tent where Kate and John played the giant marimba for a while. Henry had been building drums and all the paraphernalia was there, including completed drums made of deerskin, that boomed out at mega-volume when he hit them.
We had food vouchers and I honestly had the best cheesy potatoes (that's Dauphinoise Potatoes to you over there with the recipe book) that I've ever eaten in my life. There's something about eating outside that makes everything taste better and I almost ate the paper plate as well.
Inside the food tent there were all ages of rock: young bands being rock'n'roll with lager and loud voices, medium bands with a confident way of sitting round their table, and then the ancient rockers with stories in their faces, who looked as though they are kept in rock'n'roll storage barns and brought out for festivals and jolted with a few volts to reanimate them. I met T Bone Tapling, the sound engineer from Birkenhead, who was helping a new Scouse band called The Songwriters and who particularly likes our song Hamilton Square, because that's where it is. Birkenhead.
Just outside the dressing room, we met Eddi Reader, resplendent in a magnificent parka covered in pansies. She told Martin that the first record she ever bought was Boat to Bolivia; she was really friendly and was probably the most glamorous person at the whole festival.
In no time at all, the band were on stage, hitting the ground running: BLAM!
The audience were ecstatic: there were lots of kids there (8.45 is a great slot to play because it's after tea and before bedtime), all smiles, arms in the air, the tent was packed to overflowing and the audience were roaring their approval. Martin was hilarious and the cameraman from BBC Alba, on the side where I was sitting, was laughing so much that they probably won't be able to use that footage at all when they edit it for TV.
The band played for 45 minutes and I reckon the crowd would have had them there for the same amount of time again; the best song was Left Us To Burn, the anti-Thatcher song that was a definite crowd pleaser in a country that has voted against that sort of nasty meanness. All four of them played absolutely top notch performances with a level of energy that buzzed though the venue. From surf tunes to Crocodile Cryer, they didn't put a foot wrong, and the band were so happy afterwards that they forgot to pick up their fee; we went back to do that this morning. I also want to say thank you to you Martin, for playing such a beautiful cover version of I'm in Love for the First Time. It is an honour to have that song covered and I think you do a better job of it than I do.
Right now they are off to Ullapool to play the Argyll Hotel. Go along if you can- they are on fine form! I am the roadie for the journey back tomorrow so I'm catching a few zeds. It's a long way and an early start; let's hope I can get on the road before the enormous motor homes (bungalows on wheels), tractors and bicycles do, and get the A9 under the wheels before lunchtime.

No comments: