it would be a crying shame to lose one of the most beautiful festivals we have

Rock Ness 2013 review

published: Thu 13th Jun 2013

around the festival site

Friday 7th to Sunday 9th June 2013
Clune Farm, Loch Ness, Scotland, IV2 6DP, Scotland MAP
£139 for a weekend camping
daily capacity: 35000
last updated: Mon 20th May 2013

Groggy after the excesses of the previous night, the toll of endless samples of Jeremiah Weed and pints of beer combined with too much sunshine started to show as Sunday dawned. Cloudy at first, the sun reliably peered through the clouds resulting in another gloriously scorching day as the festival prepared for its last day of the weekend. Another afternoon of sitting on the grass loomed, and Scottish band Fatherson proved just the tonic for the weary crowd. Pulling in a decent audience so early in the day, the foursome were deserving of the main stage spot as they kicked off Sunday’s line-up of bands in stark contrast to yesterday’s heavy dance line-up. 

And from chilled out indie band we moved to veterans Alabama 3 - formed in 1995 in Brixton with a mass of members they gave a set full of alternative fusion of country music and acid house. Hit “Woke Up This Morning” being the most recognisable but they ultimately failed to get many dancing around with them, most preferring to chat and enjoy the relaxed vibe of the day.

Keeping with the indie feel of the main stage, The Futureheads made a welcome appearance. Having been quiet in the music scene of late, they exploded back into the memories of fans with older hits such as 'Hounds of Love' and 'The Beginning of the Twist' yet their newer a capella tunes failed to ignite much interest. Previously the kings of festivals, the proof was in the pudding as previous hits made the punchiest impact.

 

Nipping into the GoldenVoice to catch some of Reverend And The Makers showed that there was a power struggle between these veterans of the festival scene and The Futureheads – ultimately the sun won over as the latter pulled the biggest crowd, yet John McClure's band in the GoldenVoice arena played with as much attitude as ever to the small yet energetic audience they managed to keep hold of. 

There are some bands that scream "summer" when you think of them – and The Temper Trap are one of them. With their quirky indie rock sound they were the perfect balance to the main stage’s heavy band line-up of the day, providing plenty of opportunity to sing-a-long to hits such as 'Sweet Disposition'.

However, it was the lure of Madness which got the main stage really buzzing for the day. Pork pie hats abound, and with an older demographic filling the front audience barrier rather than the usual youngsters, it was clear these true old hands were the ones to see this weekend. Questions were asked as to why Suggs and crew weren't clear headliners for the weekend, yet they seemed nonplussed as they were heralded onto the stage by a piper before launching into a set so energetic it would have put most of the weekend’s younger acts to shame. They played all the big expected hits to keep their audience happy, including 'My Girl', 'It Must Be Love' and 'Baggy Trousers' before a controlled stage invasion heralded the end of their hour as everyone as far as the eye could see did the ‘"madness dance", smiles and cheers all round. 

It couldn't have been easy to follow such an established band, but Madeon sorely deserved his spot on the main stage as the penultimate act of the weekend. Appearing much earlier in the bill last year he packed out the tent, and this year pulled an impressive crowd given being still relatively unknown at only 19. He played his set with a renewed confidence, setting a far more imposing figure than previously but still with the skill he gained his fan base from. Fan favourites 'Icarus' and remix of Deadmau5's 'Raise Your Weapon' were greeted with a sea of bouncing bodies while he seamlessly segued in 'Standing In The Way of Control', 'Music Sounds Better With You', 'Song 2' and Daft Punk's 'Around The World'. Although an unusual mix, Madeon has a knack of gauging the feel of the audience and playing to their needs. Although his set was similar to that of last year, the notable addition of new track 'The City' rounded off the hour nicely, as Madeon photographed the crowd before raising his fist in a final goodbye salute. 

There was a delay while the main stage packed out for the beginning of Plan B – with Ben Howard's set being planned to finish before the main headliner started, it was clear the organisers wanted as many people on the main hill to witness Ben Drew's hour and a half long set as possible. Once happy that the GoldenVoice arena was emptying, Plan B's intro beat-boxer Faith SFX entered: staggeringly talented, he riled the crowd up for the star's big entrance – flanked by a video production showing clips of Plan B's film 'Ill Manors' – yet Plan B failed to hold the interest of the dance enthusiasts who preferred instead to head over to the Soma Arcadia Afterburner where Josh Wink kept the techno side of the festival happily dancing away for what felt like hours, highlighting Rock Ness' credentials as a dance festival over all else. 3D laser images of clouds over the energetic crowd were visually stunning while surrounded by Arcadia's fire displays. 

And it was the Arcadia crowd who were rewarded with the best view of the ending fireworks as they blasted from the back of the arena, not by the main stage as many expected. Not one to skimp on the firework display, Rock Ness' pyrotechnic designers ended the evening in style, while half of the main stage crowd reportedly missed much of the display due to timing issues. 

After the chants of "one more tune" died down there was little left to do than to have one last go on the reverse bungee ride, before heading back to camp to allow the weekend's adrenaline to leave the system. This year Rock Ness was riddled with rumours of this being the penultimate – or even last – year of the festival. Although there was a mixed bag of acts, it would be a crying shame to lose one of the most beautiful festivals we have. As tents were abandoned or packed up, there remained a real hope we’'d all see its return in 2014.


review by: Clare Sinclair

photos by: Clare Sinclair

Friday 7th to Sunday 9th June 2013
Clune Farm, Loch Ness, Scotland, IV2 6DP, Scotland MAP
£139 for a weekend camping
daily capacity: 35000
last updated: Mon 20th May 2013


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