My wellies are caked in mud. I’m feeling a little bit worse for wear. My body is aching. I’m absolutely knackered. But I’m happy. Must have been a good time at Belladrum Tartan Heart Music Festival 2017!!
I’ve been going to Belladrum on and off since 2008. I think this was my 6th time going in the last 10 years and I had such a great time. If you’re not familiar with Belladrum, it’s a music and arts festival held every August near Inverness on the Belladrum Estate and it’s been going since 2004, getting bigger and better every year.
I love Belladrum because it’s got kind of a folky feel to it. It caters to such a range of ages, from young kids to golden oldies and everyone in between. There’s so much variety and choice with over 5 stages playing music between 12pm and 2am over the 2 main days. And it’s just so chilled! It’s obviously on a much smaller scale than the likes of T in the Park or any of the bigger festivals around the UK but that’s another reason why I love it!
I wasn’t going to go to Belladrum this year. The tickets sell out pretty early on in the year and with our unemployment status for the first half of this year, we decided it wasn’t all that sensible to spend that kind of money on tickets.
Fast forward to Tuesday evening, talking to my boyfriend about seeing if they have any Saturday tickets available. Wednesday morning, I actually looked at the website and saw that they were selling more 2-day and 3-day tickets for the next 24 hours.
Queue frantic thought patterns of how to make this work…
- Speak to boss about whether I can get Friday off. Check.
- Speak to boyfriend about going, even though he couldn’t because he was working. Check.
- Speak to dad about mooching off him and his wife since I don’t currently have (m)any camping supplies and arranging to meet up. Check.
All that was left was to actually buy the tickets. Which took way longer than it should have. Now that I had the ‘go ahead’, so to speak, did I want to go to Belladrum after all? It’s a lot of money to drop on 2 days at a music festival given that we’re just properly getting back on our feet. After a lot of humming and hawing, much to the frustration of my mum and boyfriend I’m sure, I finally decided to go, and bought my ticket!
Shit. Now I need to get myself organised. I don’t have wellies. I don’t have supplies. I don’t really have the means to get there. All I have is the ticket and the time off. Shit.
Thanks to the help of my boyfriend (going into town on his day off to buy me wellies while I was at work and helping me buy and pack up supplies) and my mum (for giving me a lift), I was finally off to Belladrum on the Thursday evening. Again, an unexpected change. Gotta love finishing work at 5pm and then arriving at a festival at 9.30pm the same night.
Anywho. I’ve rambled on enough about getting there. I’m sure what you really wanna hear about, is the music. Because I bought a 2-day rather than a 3-day ticket, I couldn’t go into the main stage to see Sister Sledge playing but I did go to the Black Isle Brewery Grass Roots stage for the Craic it open ceilidh where Rhythm N Reel were playing.
They’re a Celtic Rock/Traditional Scottish band and they’re amazing. They’ve got about 10 members but usually perform with 6 or 7. I think they’re great because they play traditional music but intersperse it with modern songs. They played Mr Brightside on Thursday night. With bagpipes. It was awesome. They usually play on the Thursday night and I enjoy them marking the ‘start’ of the festival.
Unfortunately, Friday’s weather was absolutely rubbish. It poured rain for hours on end and although I’m Scottish and used to it, I really didn’t want to be standing in it to listen to music so the afternoon music-wise was a bit of a dud. Our group stayed at the big gazebo that they’d set up and chatted and had a laugh. It was really good fun. We did venture out in the evening though and saw some of Dr. Feelgood‘s set which was good. I didn’t really know much of their music apart from their biggest hit, Milk and Alcohol.
After picking up some food, we headed to the main stage for the main two acts of the night – Feeder and The Pretenders! Now, I know some of you will be shocked but I couldn’t name a single song by either band. I know that I know their songs, I just couldn’t place them with the bands themselves. But anyway, both of them were awesome. I absolutely love live music and neither band disappointed.
I have to say though, I think I preferred The Pretenders. Chrissie Hynde, despite being 65 years old now, is still a total badass and rock chick. I loved her. Her engagement with the audience and powerful voice was just, amazing, and made for a really great set. She just looked like a proper rocker.
Saturday was the last day of the festival. The weather had improved drastically so I went to see The Dangleberries at the main stage. They’re another regular at Belladrum, doing covers (and originals) with their pipes and guitars and the like, and they always deliver. One of the band members has a pink sporran too, what’s not to love?
I also went to check out Danny MacAskill’s “Drop and Roll Tour” which was absolutely fantastic and I would thoroughly recommend! If you don’t know Danny MacAskill, he’s a trials cyclist from Skye and he’s incredibly good. Please check him out on YouTube. There were two other trials cyclists, Ali Clarkson and Duncan Shaw, in the show and they were equally impressive. I just stopped to have a nosey but I couldn’t help but stay and watch the whole thing. It’s obviously all scripted but it doesn’t matter, so so impressive!
After that, I was off to see Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 which, straight off the bat, is just such a brilliant name for a band! They’re from Glasgow and you can definitely tell, I swear their front-man sounds just like Kevin Bridges.
They’re quite a quirky band, dressed entirely in yellow and with an inflatable flamingo and unicorn on stage with them, and with songs like “Gay Icon”, “It might not be the end of the world but it always ends in tears with a Ginger girl” and “These are not the drugs (you are looking for)”, it was an interesting set! They played a song called “Cross the road” and had the entire audience crossing the ‘road’ throughout the chorus. It was quite a sight to behold!
After a wee break back at the tent, it was back to the main stage for the rest of the night where we saw Birdy, who has such an incredible voice. I don’t know many of her songs but I did appreciate hearing Skinny Love live, and she’s very talented on the piano and guitar too.
Next up was KT Tunstall and damn, she was amazing. She’s totally off her head, coming out with the most random stuff but she was really engaging and vocally, just brilliant. I had a great time singing and dancing away with her songs. Between her and The Pretenders, easily my favourites of the weekend.
Last, but not least, was Franz Ferdinand! We all know and love “Take Me Out” and it was great to see the arena jumping about and bouncing as it was played. I didn’t know as many songs of theirs as I thought I did but they gave a really good performance.
The weekend was finished off with a fireworks display and then Torridon came on with a local pipe band to sing Wild Mountain Thyme. It was a great end to the weekend.
Despite the major lack of sleep (god, I hate camping at festivals) and rubbish weather, I had a brilliant time at Belladrum and I’m so glad I made the spontaneous decision to go this year.
Now, with Belladrum 2017 done and dusted, it’s back to reality. But I’ve got Ed Sheeran tickets for June next year to ‘tide me over’. Roll on Belladrum 2018!