The Baino Tent may not be experiencing the aural assauls of yesterday, but it’s still one man – Pete Kelly aka Beerjacket – and his ukelele against the rest of the field. Admittedly he has an ace up his sleeve (so to speak) – Julia Doogan, chipping in with backing vocals. Though he’s able to silence the tent unaided with with ‘Poor Captain of the Soul’, a haunting showstopper.
Washington Irving… now, this band look wholly unfamiliar to me, meaning that I have surely confused them with some other Scottish acts who’ve named themselves after some 19th century US figure. They’re decidedly Scots though -in fact, with Roddy Woomble having led his band into a folk cul-de-sac, this is as close as you might get to that mid-period Idlewild sound. With highly competent musicianship, however, they’re ready to (stadium) rock though they are as much Big Country as Runrig (or have I taken that too far?)
In the much more club-like setting of the Baino Tent, Machines in Heaven are gearing up for a mid-afternoon doomfest. Or so it seems from the opening synth tones. They are (possibly) Dennistoun’s answer to Discopolis but much less shiny dancepop, much more painting in monochrome stripes. They run the full gamut of emotions from dour to psychotic on bass-mangling closing number ‘Mumbo Jingo’.
As I await the next act, some kids bowl by on spacehopppers, while their parents plan for a morning of regrets with cider and somersaulting – Doune is truly an all-ages festival, though it is amazing what a bit of sunshine in Scotland can lead to. Still, at least it keeps people out of the tents, where the hippy vibe is being stretched to the limits, with toadstool whittling and a moccasin-making workshop.
The kids (as opposed to The Kids) are out in force to see Panda Su – a rarity, a local lass, whose task is to justify her big-stage billing (and defeat the wasps and save the bees). Anyone who knows Susan Shaw’s back catalogy will know that understated is the watchword. Sparse is one way to describe the arrangements – looped keyboard lines, a little guitar, and her largely anonymous percussionist. But sometimes less is more, and the crowd are charmed and largely silenced by a closing ‘Alphabet Song’.
Timing is of course the essence of festivals, and a little insider knowledge doesn’t go amiss – so I happen upon Roy Moller, who informs me that I’ve missed his (unbilled) set from earlier in the day, but I get the nod on a supergroup (of sorts)’ semi-secret appearance. Jesus Baby feature Roy and Davy Henderson plus sundry members of The Wellgreen and Store Keys. Playing one song only (!) it’s a mix of harmonies, crooning and Davy ramblng from his lyric sheet – rather different from the Sexual Objcts (more of them later) but a rather nice interlude.
Of course, this means we miss Stealing Sheep – the tent looks the busiest it has been all weekend, though the overcrowding is due in part to the majority of the audience sitting cross-legged in front of the stage. Given that info, they’re not quite as twee as expected but the all-girl, latest signing to Heavenly show on the evidence of one song that they can rock (albeit in a shy way).
A quick sighting of The Mirror Trap (who may feature on this site before the end of the year) confirms that they will be well worth further investigation, but The Monochrome Set call. Robyn Hitchcock joins us to watch (well, sits down nearby), as does the fez-sporting drummer, taking photos during ‘Goodbye Joe’ before rejoining his colleagues onstage for ‘He’s Frank’. The sound or atmosphere maybe suffers a little from the open-air surroundings but given that there have been few better songwriting acts emanating from the UK in the past 35 years, you simply can’t go wrong with an afternoon in the sun spent with Bid, Lester and Andy.
Robin Hitchcock clearly made it back from the Monochromes for his own set, there but he’s done – lights out, PA off, and Clinic raring to go nearby. Though such is the clamour for an encore that he does one – in the pitch darkness surrounded by the crowd. Sadly it’s a Beatles cover, but it’s the thought that counts.
John Knox Sex Club’s tent is darker than the souls of the crowd, singer Sean Cumming in full-on hellfire preacher mode, aptly given his band’s adopted name.
Outside, The Pastels take to the stage in rapidly-dimming light so it’s not immediately clear that they are a man down – seemingly flautist Tom Crossley, or his passport, have become lost on the way back from Paris (the latter part of this fact being a great source of amusement for jetsetting singer Stephen who can’t resist mentioning it at evey opportunity). In fact, just out of earshot the length of the arena away, awaiting my bratkofelpuffer it’s possible to hear opener ‘Wrong Light’, and the still-expanded Pastels lineup (including Teenage Fanbclub’s Gerry Love) certainly does justice to the beautifully-produced album Slow Summits. The lineup change means some rejigging, but ‘Check My Heart’ is indeed “a feel-good summer anthem”, while ‘Summer Rain’ and a cover of ‘Different Drum’ make for a great performance to chase away any clouds from the sky.
Such is the relaxed nature of the festival, the overlap between the Pastels and contemporaries The Sexual Objects has been easily overcome – simply delaying the start of Davy Henderson’s band’s set. “Turn it up until it really hurts” he insists and the soundman obliges for high-energy, high-volume takes on ‘Here Come the Rubber Cops’, ‘Full Penetration’ and a “Sir Walter Scott”-penned tune (‘Merrie England’, I think). The four guitars are perhaps a bit overpowering for the confines of the Fruitstand Tent, but we still get the weekend’s first encore, as despite unplugging their guitars, the audience insists they return, Henderson complying on condition the band don’t get “sloppy”.
Again, travel and fatigue determine our headliner – Clinic, whose opposition for the night is the John Langan Band again (this time on the tiny Inspire Stage, which is transformed into some sort of ceilidh tent). But for the sizeable crowd of devotees at the main stage, the appearance of the masked Liverpudlian quartet in Scotland is a special moment. Well, they don’t play in Scotland all that much after all, so for some it’s something of a religious experience for some. Indeed, the chap beside me is so excited by their rollocking Krautrock rhythms, it seems he might explode when they do ‘IPC Subeditors Dictate Our Youth’.
A fiting climax to one of Scotland’s best festivals.
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.