magic wee Wizard festival attracts record number of visitors

Wizard 2010 review

published: Thu 2nd Sep 2010

around the festival site (1)

Friday 27th to Saturday 28th August 2010
New Deer, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland MAP
w/e £70 including camping & parking; £45 Saturday
last updated: Mon 23rd Aug 2010

The Wizard festival in Aberdeenshire jumped to a new level this year with an open air main stage for the first time and big name headliners James and the Happy Mondays attracting record numbers of festival goers.

The north east of Scotland's only two day music festival takes place over the August Bank holiday weekend in a beautiful rural showground around 30 miles to the north west of Aberdeen.

This year, the layout of the festival changed slightly with a bigger area for the main stage, and very importantly, the bar, a bigger campsite and a bigger caravan and campervan campsite back over the road, so that despite the larger attendance figures it still kept it's small festival feel and never seemed crowded or busy.

Sandi Thom
The new stage, straight from the Tartan Heart festival at Belladrum earlier in the month, enabled the headline acts to put on some pretty special shows.

Following a mad dash up the motorway after school had finished, the first act we saw was Sandi Thom, a local north east girl who took the world by storm a few years back with her now infamous song 'I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (with flowers in my hair)' and that myspace gig. Eschewing 'that' song in favour of new material, Ms Thom showed that her style is more rock than hippy these days.

It was time to sample some of the food on offer - pork sausages and a Highland Hog Roast roll for the boys and their leftovers for me when they inevitably decided that they couldn't finish it. Sitting eating our tea on the specially constructed tables between the bar and the food stalls, we caught up with some old friends; the intimate feel of this little festival means that you can meet up with the same folk year after year without having to arrange anything by text or email or social networking or even old fashioned phonecalls.

Peatbog Faeries
Next up for us was perennial festie favourites, Peatbog Faeries, back at Wizard following their storming set there two years ago. With their individual blend of traditional music fused with trance and electronica, the Peatbogs were on fire once again and got everyone dancing in the twilight. We loved the fiddle-guitar play off early in the set and were genuinely torn between staying for the whole of their show and wanting to catch Gerry Jablonski in the Banshee stage. Gerry won this time. Local blues legends, Jablonski and the Electric Band are renowned for blistering live performances and certainly delivered at Wizard.

Then it was back to the main stage in an ever increasing downpour for James. This classic indie band provided the soundtrack to many a student night in the '90s and twenty odd years later they went down a storm in a field in the rain in the north east of Scotland. Using the big shiny new stage to full effect, Tim Booth descended into the ecstatic crowd and had to be hauled back by security; later on he appeared on top of a huge glitterball in a perspex cube. They played numerous classic toons - 'Come Home', 'Waltzing Along', 'Sound', 'Say Something', 'Tomorrow', the anthemic 'Sit Down', as well as some new material.

By the end of the set it is fair to say that most of the audience were literally soaked through; we headed back to the van for a medicinal and warming wee rum and coke or two (for me that is, not the kids obviously) and had to, and I'll say it again cos it is true, literally peel our wet clothes off. Unfortunately the rain put paid to any sort of campsite scene, which is always disappointing as one of the best things about festivals is meeting yer neighbours.

Saturday morning dawned drier at least, although not quite as sunny as everyone had been optimistically saying it would be the night before. It was dry enough to hang the wet clothes out to erm, dry though, and to hang oot and get to know the folk next door at least though. We had brekkie, numerous cups of tea, then lunch, and finally headed into the arena in the early afternoon.

First stop was the dance tent, sponsored by one of Aberdeen's hottest clubs, Snafu, and where some girl quite aggressively and repeatedly told me to get my kids out of there cos everyone was so "mashed". My boys are pretty cool and were more interested in the lights and the beats than the people, and this girl was as mashed as the rest of 'em, so we ignored her until it was time to head back out into the sunshine and catch Proud Mary on the main stage.

Proud Mary
One of many Manchester bands on the line up this year, Proud Mary purvey a sort of indie blues stylee of music, a mixture of jangly guitars, pitch perfect bluesy type guitar solos with a smattering of sax solos.

Up next was Kid British, who I first saw at Loopallu last year. They have supported the legendary Specials and mash up a bit of old school ska, reggae, pop and indie music in a set that included singles 'Our House Is Dadless' (introduced as a tribute to single parenthood) and 'Let's Have A Party'. There was quite a lot of old school Madness style dancing goin' on in that there field, but the rain started pouring down half way through their set which meant that a chunk of the audience wandered off to find shelter.

The Complete Stone Roses
Ourselves included. We headed back to the van for a couple of hours to dry out and grab some tea and sustenance and then it was main stage again for The Complete Stone Roses, the official tribute to another Manchester band. Billed as "the closest there is to the atmosphere and sounds of a Stone Roses gig" the audience certainly seemed to love 'em, although with tunes as good as 'Waterfall', 'Fools Gold' and 'I Am The Resurrection' it is kinda hard to fail. I have to say though that I think there is something slightly weird about living your life as a tribute to someone else, but what the hell, if they are having fun and it pays the bills then fair play to them. And they are pretty good at what they do.

Root System is a Scottish ska band and I love them. And after their hugely energetic and enthusiastic performance on the Banshee stage, now my boys love ‘em too. As I have said before, one of the many reasons that I love festivals is that it is so good to see young kids givin' it laldy to great bands playing great music, and the reaction to Root System both from my own boys and other bouncy happy children - especially those boys on stage with the band - is just ace to see. Then it was the highlight of the weekend for many regular Wizard goers, the much-anticpated return of Alabama 3 to New Deer - their only Scottish festival appearance this year. I spoke to the Reverend D Wayne Love himself, or more exactly, Jake, when they played here a couple of years ago and he told me how spiritual he found this part of the world, just adding to my suspicions that there is something magical about this little festival.

Alabama 3
I love the massive sensory assault of the full force of this Brixton collective at its total ass-kicking techno acid house best, and I am not alone; they have a pretty big following - even in a field "full of wet Scottish people" as Larry put it. They opened with a song from their latest album 'Revolver Soul' and then went straight into my happy song, 'Up Above My Head', my kids' fave 'Hello…I'm Johnny Cash', 'Woke Up This Morning' ("that's off the tv you know"), 'Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness', 'Mao Tse Tung Said', 'U Don't Dans To Tekno', 'R.E.H.A.B', 'Woody Guthrie', 'Power In The Blood', 'Hypo Full Of Love', with 'Too Sick To Pray' and 'Peace in the Valley' for an encore.

around the festival site (2)
Fireworks heralded the arrival of the Happy Mondays on stage, minus Bez of course, who had been banged up just a few days before their appearance at Wizard, but my kids had had enough of standing and dancing in the rain by then so unfortunately and with slightly heavy hearts it was home time.

Wizard has always punched above its weight and this year was no exception. The festival directors had pledged to deliver the best music bill yet and I think they achieved that. Marketing efforts were ramped up too, with billboard posters in Aberdeen, radio competitions and pre-festival coverage on the BBC, all of which seemed to pay dividends in terms of numbers of festie-goers, and none of which detracted from the overall feel and atmosphere of the event. It is still a family friendly festival, with a full two day children's programme and a dedicated area, Wee Wizards, where families and kids can get involved in creative and musical activities and workshops.

My only complaint about the whole weekend was the slightly over zealous security policy, which prohibited anyone sitting on shoulders in the main arena bit, which isn't good for wee kids who might get a bit intimidated in the crowds and who certainly can't see much of the stage action without being on folk's shoulders. Who am I kidding, I'm only five foot tall - it affects me too! All in all though, it was another brilliantly successful Wizard weekend.

around the festival site (1)
review by: Clare Damodaran

photos by: Clare Damodaran

Friday 27th to Saturday 28th August 2010
New Deer, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland MAP
w/e £70 including camping & parking; £45 Saturday
last updated: Mon 23rd Aug 2010

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