Wednesday 27 July 2011

Wickerman, Saturday 23rd July 2011

For the third year running I headed down to Dumfries and Galloway for the Wickerman Festival at the weekend.

Due to the birth of baby Zoe less than 4-weeks previously, I was only going down for 1-day and night on the Saturday, so unfortunately I missed Echo and the Bunnymen and James on the Friday night, my friends said they were great.

On Saturday morning I picked up Anneliese from her flat in the West End and then Julian (Miaoux Miaoux) from Glasgow Airport. Julian was fresh (well actually quite tired and stressed) from 2-weeks producing in Switzerland and unfortunately his luggage had gone missing on the way back. He had actually seen someone walking away with a bag that looked like his at Heathrow – nightmare, especially considering that the bag contained some essential equipment! 

If that wasn’t enough Julian’s flight had been delayed and we met him shortly after 10am. Julian was due to play the GoNorth tent with his other band the Maple Leaves at 12.30pm.

We belted out of Glasgow Airport at 10.20am and the new M74 extension came in very handy indeed as we picked up speed. On the way we phoned the very helpful Allan who worked at the Solus Tent and asked if he could try to source some equipment so Julian could play his set as Miaoux Miaoux. Allan was very helpful and as time went on we all felt increasingly confident about things.

Luck was on our side and we arrived on site just after 12.15pm, quickly found the artist registration, informed them that Juian was due on stage in 10 minutes and he sped off in a little golf buggy while Anneliese and I parked the car in the Artists Camping field. With no time to pitch our tents we headed off to the Solus Tent to catch up with Allan and to meet Chay the organiser. It was great to finally meet him after exchanging emails and facebook chat. Allan was still asking around for some of the stuff for Miaoux Miaoux, but with almost 3-hours until the set we were confident it would happen.

As luck would have it (it appeared to be on our side – well at least after Julian’s bags went missing!) the GoNorth tent was right next to the Solus Tent, not before we had cadged much needed beers off the lovely Chay. So we caught most of Maple Leaves set and it was quite surreal watching Julian after everything he/we had been through that morning, especially knowing how close he had been to not making it. Check out a Maple Leaves video below;

I hooked up with Lloyd from the marvellous Peenko blog, who also recently became a father, and we went down to the VIP bar and bought each other a nice cold bottle of Pear cider. It hit the mark and I was glad we had two bottles rather than one. I then bumped into my friends Lorna and Colin who were going to see the Black Hand Gang and Lloyd was heading off to the Scooter Tent, however I fancied heading to the Pimms garden/bar to find out what Glasgow Podcart and Detour were going to come up with the huge ensemble that is Blochestra. Blochestra meet every Monday evening in Bar Bloc in Bath Street in Glasgow and jam on covers with all manner of instruments. Jam is a loose description, they are much better than that!

The powers that be had brought them together with the singer from Scottish band The Bluebells to play their hit song ‘Young At Heart’. The singer certainly looked a lot older than his Top of the Pops days, but he still had a sparkle in his eye and he turned in a magnificent performance, as did Blochestra and i immediately made a note to check their Solus Tent set later. Lorna and Colin came to meet me and we had a couple of Pimms sitting in the lovely picnic garden that they had.

NOTE - video will be added a later date

After that it was time to head back to the Solus Tent for Miaoux Miaoux. Julian turned in a terrific set, thanks to the Scottish Enlightment who helped out hugely by lending him some of their gear. ‘Pixellated’ kicked things off, ‘Hey Sound’ was a perfect summer festival tune, ‘Knitted’ was sublime, ‘Autopilot’ prompted a lot of head nodding and foot tapping, there was a dedication and a ‘f**k you’ to the woman who walked off with his bag and the closer of ‘Snow’ ended with Julian lying flat on his back on stage. The pressure of losing equipment, making the site for Maple Leaves, borrowing equipment and even getting to play had been lifted and it showed, Julian clearly enjoyed himself on stage and everyone in the crowd did too.

Miaoux Miaoux

It didn’t end there as Glasgow Podcart and Detour invited Julian to play the ‘smallest rave in the world’ in a backstage caravan. In preparation, Weaver from Detour double checked the suspension (well some blocks of wood under the caravan) – just as well. Kirsten from Podcart/Pooch brought out some facepaint to help get us in the mood while Julian set up inside. We were then given orders to form an orderly queue and we made our way inside.

NOTE - The video will be added to this blog once it is available.

Julian played a brilliantly loose version of ‘Hey Sound’ with everyone joning in on the call and response vocals, Anneliese was dancing on the table, Ally McCrae had his ‘tap off’, I drunkenly sprayed some cider and everyone had big huge smiles on their faces. It was great fun. So within 4-hours of getting on site Julian had played 3-gigs!

After a beer, several ciders and a couple of Pimms and only a bowl of Special K to eat, I decided it might be an idea to grab a burger before the three of us went back to set up our tents. Our popup tent came in very handy indeed!

I caught a bit of Emma’s Imagination on the Main Stage, but left after a few songs as to be honest I don’t think her songs/sound suited the main stage, they certainly felt like a bit of a comedown after the ‘smallest rave in the world’ and fuelled by more cider I certainly wasn’t in the mood for a comedown. I did manage to catch snippets of the excellent Randolph’s Leap and most of Blochestra in between getting some nice Paad Thai.

After a wander around with Lorna and Colin we headed back to the Solus Tent to catch Discopolis, a young band who have just released their first single on the excellent Eli and Oz label. They started rather shabbily but they hit their stride and turned in a superb set that the three of us really enjoyed, as did the ever growing crowd in the tent. Check the video for their single below.

We caught a little bit of The River 68’s in the GoNorth Tent, a rather cheesey soft rock band with a singer that looks like he could be in The Quireboys. However they sure could play and their energy and enthusiasm were good fun, as were the guitar solos.

Next up was The Coral. I liked their last album, so I thought they would be good. I was wrong, the three of us didn’t enjoy it at all and spent most of the time going in and out of the VIP bar to get cider and then Morgans Spiced.

On to the headliners. Feeder on the main stage or From the Jam in the Scooter tent. We opted for the latter and had a great time. The band was formed by Jam bassist Bruce Foxton, who bounded on to the stage in a very sharp suit and they launched into ‘Eton Rifles’. There were many highlights, but towards the end of the set they blasted through ‘In the City’, ‘Going Underground’, ‘Town Called Malice’ and ‘Beat Surrender’, with ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’ another highlight. Julian and Anneliese said that Feeder were good, although Anneliese’s schoolgirl crush on Grant Nicholls may have had something to do with that!

We wandered outside afterwards to stand by the wall to watch the burning of the Wickerman and the fireworks display to much whooping and shouting. I love the fact that the festival stops for a bit so everyone comes together for that moment.

It was then on to the main stage for Craig Charles funk and soul DJ set. Lorna and i danced away while Colin mumbled about going to the dance tent for some techno. Appearing back some time later with a horses head mask that we all took turns at wearing!

At around 1.20am I decided to head to my tent and lay chilling listening to the end of Craig Charles set before a band I believe to be Paws played a great campsite acoustic set of covers. A lot of songs I didn’t recognise, it was a nice end to a brilliant day. 

I hope to be back at WIckerman next year, either with one of the acts I work with or as a punter. 

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