By Niall Christie
Last weekend’s Belladrum Festival proved to be one of my favourites, and having attended every year since 2005, that is a reasonable complement coming from me. But, the one thing I noticed, having thought about and taken in all that I saw during the festival, when asked who my top three performers of the weekend were, there was one thing that struck me above all else: they were all fronted by women.
Albeit not an exhaustive list of highlights, the acts listed below provided some of the most impressive and surprisingly enjoyable (Sister Sledge) sets of the weekend. While honourable mentions go to the likes of Feeder, Milburn, Jamie and Shoony and Emme Woods, the following female fronted fans favourites really stole the show.
Exhibiting a songwriting maturity well beyond their ages, Edinburgh-based dream pop quartet Skjor made for one of the highlights of the weekend. With a great amount of publicity from the likes of Vic Galloway and other at BBC Scotland, the band have gathered an impressive following.
Debut single ‘Self Control’, released late last year, displays a musical depth lost on many, and still early in their careers.
An atmospheric performance, boosted by the modest-sized tent in which they played, this may have come as a surprise to some. But word is spreading quickly, with a Fringe performance at George Herriot’s school coming up later this month.
By no means new to the game, but constantly finding new ways to lock in crowds and mesmerise, the pairing of Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson of Slow Club made for the perfect way to round off a Sunday evening. Before the chaos of the late crowds drawn to Franz Ferdinand, This duo played a low key and, possibly, under appreciated set on the Grassroots Stage.
Mixing it up with favourites old and new, the natural wit and charm of the artists shone through, with the crowd buying in with a few light-hearted retorts, and some requests for good measure.
Despite the modest set up, with no backing band to be seen, the quiet and building sound that Slow Club are known for remained.
First Aid Kit
The Swedish sisters were at it again, with another blistering festival set after starring on the main stage at this year’s Glastonbury. Klara and Johanna Söderberg, the first of the “big” acts to appear at this year’s Bella on the Thursday, a female-dominated night.
For the eyes of those who splashed out on an opening night ticket only, the indie folk favourites did not disappoint, with hit following hit throughout the set. Even managing to squeeze in a Kenny Rogers cover for good measure, the fans who had paid the additional £30 were not left disappointed.
Nor were they let down by these old school divas, Thursday night’s headliners. Still mourning the death of sister Joni, who died earlier this year, the group turned the festival into what sounded like their own gospel choir, interspersing 70s and 80s hit with hymns and chants, getting the crowd on side with ease.
Short of becoming a sermon, the set was teeming with quality. Backed by a full band, making the most of Belladrum’s giant, picturesque Garden Stage, the closing chorus to ‘We Are Family’ could be heard all the way to the outer echelons of the campsite, with not a sole in the crowd able to hold themselves back from a boogie.