Thursday, 17 July 2014

Wickerman Festival 2014 - a preview

I have become increasingly fond of the Wickerman Festival since Lynn and I first attended back in 2009. We've been back pretty much every year since other than when Lynn was expecting. The location, eclectic line-up, friendly atmosphere and the fact that it is just so different make it very appealing.

Personal highlights from my visits have included the pure pop of the Human League, Candi Staton in blazing sunshine, singing myself hoarse to Teenage Fanclub and The Charlatans, one of the best festival sets ever by Nile Rodgers and Chic, Miaoux Miaoux playing a rave in a caravan, Vigo Thieves packing the Solus Tent and generally having a great time just wandering around discovering all kinds of music.

The Wickerman goes up in flames back in 2009

As it is 2014, here are 14 acts or things to do for your consideration;

1. Del Amitri
I have the joy of playing 7-a-side football with Justin Currie, lead singer of the Del's. He is a pretty good player should you be wondering! Justin is also really looking forward to playing Wickerman with the reformed Del's and having witnessed their hometown comeback show at the Hydro back in January, I am positive that they will smash it with all the hits and more.

2. Dizzee Rascal
Bonkers?! I have to admit that the Friday headliner took me by surprise, but then the Wickerman Festival has a habit of coming up with the unexpected - they know how to get a crowd pleasing act in.

Massive pop songs like Dance Wiv Me, Bonkers and Holiday alongside Dizzee's enthusiasm and energy should get the Wickerman crowd bouncing and partying.

3. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Heatwave, Dancing In The Streets, Nowhere To Run and Heatwave are just 4 good reasons to go and see Martha. I have had the pleasure of seeing her on a few occasions (including getting up to dance on stage with her at Oran Mor a couple of years ago - look out for her getting some of the crowd up for a certain song with Dancing in the title!) and Martha's voice is sensational. Full of power, emotion and soul. Could steal the whole festival.

4. Alabama 3
One of the hardest working live acts around with a reputation of being one of the best. I caught them years ago supporting Primal Scream and I'm looking forward to seeing them again. Their mixture of country, gospel, electronic, rock and blues is bound to win them a few new fans. Their best known song is Woke Up This Morning which was the theme tune for The Sopranos.

5. The Zombies
Time of the Season is a sensational song. I already have a vision of watching it with a nice cold cider in my hand in glorious afternoon sunshine. Fingers crossed!

The Zombies 1968 album Odessey and Oracle is heralded as a classic, as is their 1964 single She's Not There. I am personally really looking forward to their set.

6. Solus Tent
I always spend a good amount of time in the Solus Tent and have got to know the curator Chay. Chay has great taste in music and ensures quality and an eclectic array of music is on offer throughout the weekend.

Chay is ahead of the game on many occasions and may just have surpassed himself as this year the Solus Tent has Young Fathers (winners of the Scottish Album of the Year), Neon Waltz (young guitar band from Wick signed to the management team behind Oasis) and the highly rated Amazing Snakeheads (who released their debut album on Domino) who are building a reputation for their high energy live sets.

If you are feeling fragile then keep an eye on schedules for when the Cairn String Quartet are playing. They may well feature some guest vocalists.

I hope to check out Atom Tree and Tuff Love amongst others.

7. goNorth Tent
Sitting next door to the Solus Tent, these two tents offer the best in unsigned and DIY bands, alongside up and coming acts that have a deal. Check out sunshine pop from TeenCanteen, the eclectic and electric Roman Nose, punk rock pop from United Fruit and loads more.

8. Grass sledging
There are all kinds of activities on offer at Wickerman, with plenty for kids to do. We certainly intend to take our kids in a couple of years time, but you'll see kids from a very young age upwards. Grass sledging is something I tried at Wickerman a few years ago and may well do it again this year.

9. Scooter Tent
I love the Scooter Tent at the Wickerman Festival, it is full of characters who are exceptionally passionate about music. There are certainly people who go to Wickerman and spend their weekend in the Scooter Tent or just outside in the sunshine.

I certainly recommend checking out Berry Tweed and the Chasers for some top mod action and depending on timings I also fancy The Counterfeit Clash.

10. The Silent Disco
I always end up in here after the main act finishes on the Friday night. Great fun as two DJ's play off against each other and the crowd click between tracks 1 or 2 on their headphones. You'll be listening to Basement Jaxx at one point and then half the crowd will go mental as the second DJ drops a classic on the other track and you switch over.

11. Acoustic Village
Very popular with families (and those with a hangover!) for some nice chilled out music. Roddy Woomble (who played the Main Stage back in 2009 with Idlewild) is among the bigger names playing.

12. Walk around and find the Jimmy Carr bar!
The Wickerman site is perfect for just wandering around. Go and sit by the Wickerman and chill out, stumble across a funky bar set in a small wood in the middle of the site, take a stroll around the stalls, mountain bike and check out every stage there is at some point of the weekend. Oh and get your picture and a drink at the Jimmy Carr bar!

My better half at last summers Wickerman

13. The Thursday night 
Despite a number of visits to Wickerman, I've never been down for the opening on the Thursday night. A handful of small stages are open and this year Them Beatles are set to get the party started. My friends Lorna and Colin have been down a few times on the Thursday and assure me it is great fun as it is so chilled before the main event. This year I am planning to go down on the Thursday - can I handle 3-days and nights in my old age.

14. The burning of the Wickerman
The focal point of the festival, everything stops and everyone gathers for the burning of the Wickerman and fireworks. I love the fact that this happens, everyone gets caught up in the one moment. It isn't quite the climax though as the party continues and in 2014 it will be Utah Saints taking to the main stage to keep everyone dancing.

That is just 14 things to look out for - there is much, much more including the indie disco brilliance of Shed 7, rising stars Model Aeroplanes, the legendary Big Country, a dance tent until 4am and the ever popular reggae tent that stays open until 5am for those still standing!

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