Buzzcocks see Belladrum Tartan Heart's audience enthused and happy

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 2012 review

published: Wed 8th Aug 2012

around the festival site (1)

Friday 3rd to Saturday 4th August 2012
Belladrum Estate, by Beauly, Inverness-shire IV4 7BA, Scotland MAP
£95, under 12s free - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13500
last updated: Thu 19th Jul 2012

The Tartan Heart Festival at Belladrum, the only Scottish festival to have sold out so far this year, has been hailed as "the best yet" by organisers.

around the festival site (2)
Blessed by fantastic weather for the two days of the main festival, Bella fans basked in beautiful sunshine while enjoying an eclectic range of entertainment.

Bella, as it is known to its fans, takes place in a truly beautiful location a couple of miles out of Beauly, which in turn is a little north-west of Inverness. Tickets sold out well in advance for the fourth consecutive year with fans old and new keen to experience this magical little festival.

I said last year that I would go to Bella whatever the line up was and my comments and principles were put to the test this year. Out of the ninety or so acts performing across five stages I could count on pretty much one hand the ones that I wanted to see and none of them were headliners. But that is not what Belladrum is about, it never has been. It is about the peace and quiet, taking time out and remembering what is important. It is about perspective. It's about seriously awesome food and organic beer. It's about the people. And we were going.

around the festival site (1)
By the time we arrived at about tea time on the Thursday, the campervan site was already close to full and the atmosphere on site was more like a Saturday night than a Thursday night. There were long queues for beer tokens and beer and the Grassroots stage and the trade stalls were all mobbed with excitable teenagers in hotpants. The Rogues, a Pogues tribute band, set the bar high for the rest of the weekend with their Thursday night opening performance.

On a sunny Friday, the Seedlings stage saw a number of bands on the Scottish festival circuit, including The French Wives, and Stagger Rats who both performed at Wickerman last year, while the Grassroots stage saw the return of The Ballachulish Hellhounds who performed a storming bluegrass set on the same stage last year, as well as Ed Sheerin favourite Nina Nesbitt, and local success story Rachel Sermanni.

Bwani Junction
On the main stage our first band of the day was Bwani Junction, a young band already on their second album who didn't let the heat of the middle of the day stop them from rocking out their sort of Kings of Lyon meets world music type sound. They played 'Civil War' and 'Hostage to Fortune' from their new album, claiming that they would choose which would be the first single based on the reaction of the crowd to each song, although by far the biggest reaction they got was to their mash up of 'Dirty Old Town'.

The South
After a far too brief soiree to the Potting Shed, it was back to the Garden Stage for a Beautiful South offshoot band, The South. As expected, they played all the Beautiful South hits to an appreciative audience that was really beginning to get into the groove. Unfortunately we missed Vintage Trouble who I had wanted to see after their brilliant performace last year but we needed to eat before the "secret special guest performance", a genius marketing idea if ever I heard one - the festival had been a-buzz with rumour and intrigue surrounding the identity of the mystery act, which was KT Tunstall a couple of years ago. This year, gossip from the beer token and toilet queues and from around the campsites suggested that it could have been anyone from Alabama 3 to Amy MacDonald, the Kaiser Chiefs to Kassidy.

Kassidy
In the end, it was probably the worst kept secret ever, with legions of Kassidy fans lining the barrier at the front of the Garden Stage in time for the allotted slot. They were not disappointed as the long-haired rockers took to the stage to peddle their brand of populist and harmless folk rock to the masses. After packing out the Hothouse tent last year it seemed only right that they graduated to the main stage this year and they certainly delivered, performing songs from both their albums, including 'Oh My God', 'Waking up Sideways', 'Stray Cat', 'I Don't Know' and 'Take Another Ride' from their debut 'Hope Street' as well as material from 'One Man Army', released earlier this year. Their addictive, catchy choruses, steady beats and undoubtedly good harmonies stick in your head for days after you hear them and always seem to get the crowd dancing very happily in a field. At the end of the set, the boys threw branded frisbees out into the crowd; you gotta respect the marketing team behind them.

After such a polished performance it was off to the Hothouse stage for Eddie And The Hot Rods and some down 'n' dirty rock 'n' roll. It was a high energy performance that as singer Barrie Masters freely admitted was mainly made up of the band's singles, some instant feel good hits of nostalgia. 'I Might be Lying', 'Do Anything You Wanna Do', 'Life on the Line', and 'Power and the Glory' all had the crowd jumping and singing along - even the kids there were joining in, feeding off the infectious enthusiasm of a band mainly old enough to their grandfathers. A resounding performance of 'Gloria' closed the set, showing that Eddie and the Hot Rods are indeed still pretty hot.

Buzzcocks
Eschewing the main stage acts again, and continuing the evolution of punk timeline, next up on the Hothouse Stage was headliners Buzzcocks. As many people have quipped, the Buzzcocks have had thirty years to practise and are now very accomplished musicians, and this performance certainly would indicate that they are very good at playing these days. Again, plenty of singles, including 'Promises', 'Orgasm Addict', 'What Do I Get' and of course 'Ever Fallen In Love', coupled with an always entertaining performance from Steve Diggle in particular, ensured that the audience were suitably enthused and happy.

It was back to the campsite for us happy campers, popping into the onsite Co-op shoppie on the way for fresh milk for the following morning's breakfast, and our very excited and overtired young children fell asleep almost immediately.
review by: Clare Damodaran

photos by: Clare Damodaran

Friday 3rd to Saturday 4th August 2012
Belladrum Estate, by Beauly, Inverness-shire IV4 7BA, Scotland MAP
£95, under 12s free - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13500
last updated: Thu 19th Jul 2012


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