The journey continued for Frankie Boy to Saturday…..

DSCF4210 thumb - Saturday at Belladrum 2011

Back on site one of my first assignments was to track down the Wee Jaunt being set up by Detour. Announced 24 hours before on social media sites the start location was the Big Face Meeting Point. In the minutes leading up to the one o’clock start a number of people began to loiter in the vicinity. However, on arrival the Detour team had to announce that the Wee Jaunt had to be cancelled, due to a number of reasons including the lack of an acoustic guitar and one of the artists having to leave the site. Understandably, as Ally McCrae of Detour explained, either you do it properly or not at all. However, they were able to post some videos of their video diary on facebook. Also, due to the lack of a data stream on site Detour were unable to announce by social media the cancellation and had to make do with good old fashioned face to face communication. An invitation to a session with We Were Promised Jetpacks at The Temple was made, but unfortunately due to commitments elsewhere on site I was unable squeeze it into my itinerary.

DSC09843 thumb - Saturday at Belladrum 2011

After a quick bite to eat in the form of roast lamb at the excellent Argyll Foods stall, you can’t do this on an empty stomach, I headed off to see Iain McLaughlin and the Outsiders make their main stage debut. A rousing performance ensued culminating with fans’, and now festival goers’, favourite “Someone for Everyone”. This then lead for to a quick dash down to the Hot House for hot prospect Emeli Sandé’s turn on stage. A full house witnessed singer/songwriter Emeli’s stripped back set which takes full advantage of her soulful vocal, sort of culminating in her forthcoming single “Heaven”. I say sort of culminating as Emeli left the stage, and some left the tent, leaving her bewildered colleagues sitting around twiddling their thumbs on stage until her return to announce she still had one song to go!

IMG 0545 thumb - Saturday at Belladrum 2011

My next move was more in hope than in expectation as I had been tipped off an hour before that Stetsonhead at Grass Roots would have a special guest for one of their songs. Well the sprint was worth it as I made it just in time to witness The Steve Kelly and that song! A classic Bella moment!

As Bella is about so much more than just music, I took time out to chat with old friends, sample some of the offerings from the Black Isle Brewery (if only there was a facebook style “like” I could press here!) and get a few pictures of Bella punters for the invernessGiGs facebook page.

DSC00077 thumb - Saturday at Belladrum 2011

Recharged, next stop was the Seedlings to catch the musings of KOBI returning from a 6 year break, with rangy soundscapes in a solid set which did lose its way a little towards the end, it was clear that after a break these guys are certainly getting back in the groove.

With the festival flashing before me, next stop was for Ben Howard’s slot in front of his very supportive army of fans. The more I hear Ben the more I grow to enjoy his unique style and equally unique vocal, which is obviously appreciated by the aforementioned army.

DSC00251 thumb - Saturday at Belladrum 2011

Ben then made way for one of my tips of the weekend, The Staves. They had been given a tough slot going head to head with Newton Faulkner who apparently is quite popular in these parts. Equally the three sisters have done their homework and with a tour of north venues coinciding with their appearance at the Grass Roots stage, they have also garnered a lot of support. Their rich harmonies and quiet unassuming confidence shone through as the skies prepared to darken outside. Shouts for “Mexico” were finally answered as the girls provided this belter to end their set. I would also like to thank The Staves for taking time out sign CDs for fans and also pose for an invernessgigs pic!

DSCF4229 thumb - Saturday at Belladrum 2011

With the festival drawing to an all too early close, as it seems to do every year, I had just enough time to grab a couple of Roddy Hart’s numbers before heading off to pick up an extravagantly sublime set from the Guillemots. Whatever the venue Fyfe and co always make a performance that little bit extra special.

DSC00414 thumb - Saturday at Belladrum 2011

A final trip to the undervalued Seedlings gave me just enough time to pick up a little of Forres’s own Be Like Pablo. If you want a band that could hold its own at an American Pie style party (you know how in all these films each party has a band whereas we just did with CDs) then you’ve got Be Like Pablo!

IMG 0620 thumb - Saturday at Belladrum 2011

And so to the grand finale, Garden Stage v. Hot House. Old stagers v. young pretenders. Deacon Blue v. Kassidy. Kassidy were always going to be my choice ahead of Deacon Blue at the headline slot, mainly for the simple reason Kassidy are going somewhere that Deacon Blue have been and are no longer at. Hmm, maybe their home is really at the likes of Rewind Festival. However, I still had time to catch their opening sortie before my trek to the Hot House. It must be stressed that I didn’t see the full set but was left a little disappointed that they did not come out all guns blazing with one of their crowd pleasers to shake up the garden stage.

IMG 0583 thumb - Saturday at Belladrum 2011

No doubt TV evidence provided by BBC Alba will give me a full picture and I’ll leave it to those that saw the performance to make their own judgement. From my brief glimpse it certainly did not augur well with an inauspicious opening couple of tepid numbers that did little to get the pulse racing. Kassidy on the other hand were fully charged and let loose from the off which should not come as much of a surprise as they really do not know any other way to approach a gig. An overflowing Hot House was treated to the full Kassidy experience from one of the festivals most popular bands. This, to me, was a fitting end to the festival with one of the bands who look destined to take that great leap forward.

Well that’s it for another year, and we’ll talk about who we saw, who we didn’t see, and who we should really have seen over the dark, winter months. So thanks Bella for another great weekend. We are looking forward already to next year, we wouldn’t miss it. However, as I write this from a warm and dry house, I spare a thought for the brave souls who camped Saturday night through the worst of what the Highland weather could throw at them, all I can say is, I salute each and every one of you!

By Frankie Boy