Belladrum 2016

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Public Service Broadcasting

Dear Frank and Lisa

Thank you very much for taking us to the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival this weekend. It was quite an experience. The last festival I attended was the Great Western Express in Lincolnshire in 1972, and from my sketchy memory of those days I am sure that this was a very different experience. I don’t think I saw many family parties in Lincoln, nor many children, and there were no rows of house size tents, no Heilan Coo club to go for a quiet chill, no quality food and certainly no glamping. Belladrum had all of these; obviously the essential attributes of a C21 festival.

Oh, and I doubt that at Lincoln many of those attending were in their 60s, or leading figures in the local establishment, but we saw many such at Belladrum.

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18,000 people bring a lot of tents, and ours was about the very smallest. If we go again I think the ability to stand up, turn round and sit down on something other than wet grass will be quite important. some groups had constructed whole villages so clearly anything goes. I thought festivals were about mandatory discomfort, but clearly not.

But in end any festival is all about the music and there was plenty to choose from at Belladrum, from bands like Canopy 19 who, if I interpret their Facebook page correctly were playing their very first gigs at Belladrum to Madness who have of course played more gigs and festivals than you could fit in even the baggiest trousers.

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Canopy 19 playing their first ever gig on one of the side stages at Belladrum. Claire Wilson has an impressive singing voice. Let’s hope we see lots more of them in the years to come.

Given that it is possible to have too much of a good thing, we missed the Thursday and arrived on Friday. The headliners on the Garden Stage were Super Furry Animals and Two Door Cinema Club. Two Door Cinema Club were, for me, one of the highlights of the weekend; great sound, good songs and a nice vibe about them.

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Super Furry Animals. Interesting, but not that exciting.
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Two Door Cinema Club playing in the Belladrum gloaming. They were one of the highlights of the festival.

Saturday was a time to wander around the festival and bump into events and bands I had never heard before, like Canopy 19, Tweed and I See Rivers.

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I See Rivers, from Norway have just issued their first single. They played a gentle atmospheric set which went down well in the early afternoon.

We then a faced a crowded evening with C Duncan and Public Service Broadcasting in the Hothouse tent, followed by a quick journey to the Garden Stage to see Madness. C Duncan was very pleasant but I’m not sure that it was a particularly distinctive set. Public Service Broadcasting were to me the top performance of the weekend. Whilst seeking to present themselves as geeky old fogies they actually delivered a high octane multi-media show that had the audience bouncing, particularly the enthusiasts beside us who were dancing away in the space suits, in homage to the PSB album, The Race for Space.

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Public Service Broadcasting. The integration of video into their work makes it a truly multi-media experience. Some of their behaviour though is deliberately eccentric. The band do not speak at all during the show but occasionally emit a number of pre-recorded messages.

And then finally Madness delivering a series of tried and tested favourites to a packed stage and through increasingly heavy rain. But no-one seemed to mind; after all, isn’t singing along in the rain what festivals are all about!

Many thanks for a great weekend. To be repeated? I certainly hope so.


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Madness. It was packed. It was wet. It was raining. But no-one seemed to mind.