Belladrum 2012: Sensible Saturday – The Final Chapter

Right !  Finally !!  Belladrum 2012 – some words and pictures about Saturday, finally……finally, aye finally like !

I’ll tell you what – next year I’m taking notes…….

Arrived early with Mrs & Baby Houdi.  The wee person was attending her second festival – nae bad for a 10 month old – and was resplendent in her Whisky River Band T-Shirt.  Appropriately dressed as by 1pm she had experienced WRB perform both an acoustic session for her Auntie Marion and a full-line up, nappy filling electric set at the Black Isle Grassroots stage.  I was also designated driver for the day.  This’ll be a different Bella for me then !!

Roadway discuss their plan of attack for the day……..Frazer suggests whisky. Good man

From a man-with-camera point of view the first couple of hours were always going to be mental busy and I’m old and lazy (with a liddle bit of a hangover if truth be told….).  The organisers would appear to be under the impression that I own a pair of Ussain Bolt style running legs and would manage to fit in all the major local acts that Id set out to see.  Whisky River Band, Little Mill of Happiness, Zombie Militia and Iain McLaughlin all in the space of 13 and a half minutes (ok I exaggerate – 2 hours tops).  All that and the promise of some interesting acoustic sessions at MFR for Marion and Netsounds packing folk into the Rockhopper.  Something was going to have to give…………I hate myself for saying it but that turned out to be The Little Mill of Happiness.  Gutted especially after meeting them after and Matt Campbell describing it as the best they’ve ever played…………  :((

The Whiskys do it for Marion

After a quick acoustic session in the press enclosure with The Whisky River Band it was a dash down to the Hothouse Stage for the opening act down there for the day and what an act to open.  Last year the happy campers just over the fence were treated to Bronto Skylift – this year it got stepped up about 12 gears and 18 notches on the volume.  Fuck you Spinal Tap this is Zombie Militia.  Burns and his band of metal men stormed the stage and set the fucking thing on fire – Kassidy they are not, thank fuck !!  A fine start to the proceedings.  WAKEY WAKEY YOU PASTEL COLOURED KIDS OUT THERE, BELLADRUM IS ON !!  Photoset Here

Mr Burns leads the lunchtime aerobics down Hothouse way

Zombies all done and first mad-dash of the day back up to Grassroots for a rendezvous with The Whisky River Band – having already done the acoustic thang this was the full beast on show opening the Grassroots tent.  Every one of them looked as ropy as they should have after Fridays fun, games, tins and shots.  Fraser/Matt looked fit to puke but all hangovers were soon forgotten as they packed out the tent while the sun shone outside.  Always a good gauge of how well you’re doing.  That tent was cooking, as were The Whiskys !! “Doon a Storm” is the operative phrase I believe.  Photoset Here.  You can see them here on Bobby Nelsons Breaking News North

Overcoming Hangovers Since 9am………

Now I believe it is here that my schedule went to shit !!  (or not as the case may be)  I’m sure Matt and the Little Mill fellas will forgive my fuck up as I’ve just realised that I missed them for a wee acoustic treat with Willie Campbell at the Rockhopper.  He had just finished a full Open Day Rotation set in the studio over there and had kindly agreed to do a quick acoustic bit for Netsounds.  Photoset Here.  Nice one Willie – what a voice.  Such passion – regularly makes Marion Scott cry.  (so did Des and I on the Friday but for completely different reasons)

Hothouse bound again – I think I’ve also missed KOBI on mainstage by now too.  This time I’m down the hill to catch Iain McLaughlin and the Outsiders.  Last year main stage – this year a much better gig for them.  The tent was nice and busy and Id arrived pretty much bang on time for them taking the stage.

The atmospheric set opener saw Iain seem to avoid eye contact with the crowd for what seemed like an age before looking up to finally meet his audience with a warm smile and a genuine look of joy on his face – hell, even I choked a little.  Not the last emotional moment of the day (or this set for that matter….).

How You Doin’, Bella ??

Russ, Dave, Pel and Iain were joined by Roadways Ross McEwen who guested on keyboards.

This prompted a return to the pit for me with a wee tear of smileyness – Id buggered off up the back to get some crowd shots expecting Ross to make an appearance long after the photo pit had been cleared of us camera-toting vermin  :).  Another goosebumps moment.

The Outsiders proved yet again that they have the balls, the songs and the ability to take on later slots on days like these.  Roll on next year – lets move them up a few notches in the line-up !! Photoset Here

Finally I catch up with Little Mill proper – ok not totally proper – Craig is without drum kit and everything is acoustic.  We’re in the press enclosure at the MFR Arena Tent Event Marquee Fete.  Marion is too good to me.  An acoustic moment from The Little Mill of Happiness is always an intensely wonderful thing made even more amazing by it being outside on a sunny day with Willie Macaskills lilting harmonies floating around with Steves low growl while my baby slept only feet away.  Lepers Bell !  Boom – there you have yet another goosebumperoonie !!  Full Photoset Here

Nellies for the BBQ

The next couple hours was spent having some family time.  Nothing much on till later in the afternoon so time was taken to visit the other amazing places around Belladrum – the walled garden, The Healing Fields, Robs Potting Shed Stage where Martin Stephenson was having a blast with MIR and I got to say hi to Mr Oxbow and Fash.  The walled garden again had the HEN Stage as its main attraction.  Aberdeens Reid Brothers were busking there too.  Belladrum really does have something for everyone but with this years weather it just lifts it all to another level entirely !!  What a wonderful magical place it is with so much to see off the beaten track !!

Barry Mackay & Ryan Golder on the HEN Stage

The Brothers Reid serenade my wife and child. Evie jams along with tambourine

Think of this next bit as the adverts maybe.  The ‘does what they say on the tin’ section of the late afternoon and evening.  I had to take my baby home to the sitter so I just had time to catch the Ska monster that is Bombskare.  Brilliant at what they do but I couldn’t do the whole set.  Click here for photos. Having seen them 4 or 5 times now though they are guaranteed to get the audience jumping and always go down a storm.  

So I got to watch the planes do their smoke-heart from the car park and made for Inverness returning in time to get organised for Frightened Rabbit.  Another crowd pleaser – the kids love them !!  I preferred them in the intimate setting of Strathpeffer Pavilion recently but there’s no denying they can cut it with a Scottish festival crowd.  Apologies kinda made for last years non-attendance they went on to keep young and old entertained.


I’m going to get Travis out-of-the-way too at the moment before I get to the good stuff.  What I saw of Travis was most enjoyable.  Exactly what I expected.  Seasoned pro’s playing to the crowd – they loved it and Travis genuinely looked happy to be there.  Again I was in the throes of running between stages so Fran and his crew only got about 20 minutes of my time.  They were slotted in between ROADWAY, Stanley Odd and Roddy Frame was also in town – see ya Travis !! Photos here

BBC Alba happy at their work

Time for the main events for me on Bella Saturday.  First visit to the Seedlings stage today – Fridays photo-pit issues still remained so I was in no hurry to fight with front row punters to get shots of the earlier bands.  ROADWAY however were a different story.  I was having my cherry popped by these gents today – a ROADWAY virgin I would be no more and, and fuck me they popped it in style.  Opening with Fight for Freedom they just kept up the pace and the riffage and Man of the Match has to go to vocalist Dougie Grieg – it’s believed that he survives only on plutonium based cup-a-soups and Haribo Tangfastic made from pure adrenalin.  He doesn’t stop – look up ‘frontman’ in The Rock n Roll Encyclopaedia and you’ll find pictures of prehistoric cave paintings from darkest Africa which depict Dougie tearing up a stage with his teeth !!  FACT !!

Pretty amazing to see Ross and Bod onstage after the shit they’ve put up with of late – car smashes, pins and plates and comas !!  This was another expected goosebump moment and my bumps were not disappointed in the goosie stakes.  The tent was rammed and they rocked themselves proud.  I was 16 again – I always am when one of Ross McEwens bands are involved – 16 in a cut off denim jacket and a mullet.  Ross lives and breathes the classic RAWK thang – they all do.  Thats how you do a band !!  Live it !!

Iain Macleod and Bod Elder


Caught a quick 15 minutes of Aztec Camera legend Roddy Frames acoustic set in Grassroots – rumours of Edwyn Collins questing with him proved unfounded although Edwyn was apparently onsite.  Either way the crowd were well up for Roddys back catalogue which he delivered with a smile.  PHOTOS

Ok I’m running out of steam but there’s only one act left to mention – my wife and I’s personal highlight – Stanley Odd who fired on to the Seedlings stage to rapturous applause from a crowd who knew who they were there to see and what they were about to get.  What they got was the Oddsquad at their very finest.  They always deliver and no fucking way was tonight going to be an exception – THIS IS BELLADRUM !!

Still Burning & Mrs Houdi

New tracks Killergram and Carry Me Home from the forthcoming Reject album went down a storm (I’ve been fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at it and its shit hot – wait till you hear Day 3).  There were more songs but I’m only me and I forget – I was being entertained by my wife seeing Stanley Odd for the first time and loving it !!  Huge thanks to the bands sound commando Mr Jonny Fordie who got me stageside access since no pit existed as such.  Nice one big guy.  Cheers Stanley Odd- as ever !!  🙂


As with the Friday post we here at dontblog towers have to say a massive thanks to Dougie and his team at Belladrum, the Netsounds and Rockhopper guys, many of the bands for letting me point digital things at them when they’re trying to make quiet acoustic music and of course Marion and her crew for allowing me to hang about and take photos!!  You are all legends.  Roll on 2013  !!


4 thoughts on “Belladrum 2012: Sensible Saturday – The Final Chapter

    • Wow Joni – thanks a million – that means a whole heap !! We went and sat next to Bella Hung on the Saturday afternoon to give Evie her snack and, ahem, adjust her babywear. That was a major disapointment to us that it didnt come off. Roll on next year !!

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