Sunday, 27 June 2010

Futuristic Retro Champions, The Hidden Lane Festival, Glasgow 2010

I'm still recovering from yesterdays fantastic Hidden Lane Festival. It was a day of sunshine, beer, friends, great music and a very relaxed yet up for it atmosphere.

(the Hidden Lane at the end of the night)

The Hidden Lane is a little bohemian hide-a-way just off the West End of Argyll Street, full of artists studios, rehearsal space, recording studios and a funky wee cafe. Yesterday they held their annual party/festival. As luck would have it, it was one of the sunniest days of the year and the crowd were in the mood to chill in the sun before partying to some outstanding music.

I got to the Hidden Lane just before 6pm and it was mobbed. With my brother up from Manchester and my sister playing it was a great family day out with lots of friends. We soon bumped into other people we knew and started chatting to people we didn't. It was that kind of friendly atmosphere.

(Futuristic Retro Champions chill before going on)

Things were running slightly behind schedule, so Futuristic Retro Champions came on around an hour late, at 7.30pm. There was no harm in that though as it meant the crowd were in the mood for some sunshine pop and had had a few beers to get in the dancing mood.

The stage was outside the La Chunky Studio in the Hidden Lane where the band had recorded their latest EP, aptly named the La Chunky EP. With Subclub dj's playing in between bands, the crowd were looking to dance and FRC's didn't disappoint, hitting their stride and getting into the summer sunshine vibe immediately.

(the La Chunky stage)

'Strawberries & Vodka Shots' fizzed into action, the perfect soundtrack for a summer day. 'You Make My Heart' with it's New Order style bassline got the crowd dancing, 'DIY Lovesong' kept them going before new song 'Settle Down' described as an 80's electro ballad slowed the pace.

(Sita P)

It wasn't for long though as 'Kitten With A Loaded Gun' with it's infectious synth melody kicked into life and 'Speak To Me' with it's 4/4 beat kept things moving. FRC's reintroduced 'Pulling Box Shapes' into their set and some of the crowd responded by doing just that while dancing. 'Jenna' got the crowd singing along and dancing and clapping. There must have been well over 100 people (more like 150) packed into the La Chunky area of the Hidden Lane and they responded magnificently to the pop tunes, each one was greeted with cheers and applause.

(Kenny, MJ, Arrin and Ross)

FRC's then finished with a cover of Bananarama's 'Robert De Niro's Waiting' that had the place bouncing. Attempting to leave the stage, they had to come back due to the cries of 'one more tune' and continuous cheering. I think the band found some new fans!

They tore into 'Epic New Song' with it's minute long housey piano intro being perfect for the dance crowd. Sita Pieraccini on lead vocals bounced and looked like a pop princess, while the rest of the band laughed and grinned at each other, clearly enjoying playing to the crowd and witnessing their reaction.

DJ's played some tunes as the next band set up, keeping the party vibe going with the highlight being Electric 6's 'Danger. High Voltage!' mixed in with some upbeat house and funk. It was like Ibiza at one point.

Next on was a band called Battlemode who played a full on electro set with elements of Hot Chip mixed in. They were geeky yet cool looking guys with an array of synths, keyboards and laptops with a live drummer for that extra beat. The positive crowd reaction to the music continued with lots more dancing. It was a brilliant set and I'll be hoping to catch them again soon.

Next up was one of the DJ's from subculture at the Subclub and one of the coolest guys I have seen in a long time. A tall guy with a spiky afro and baggy tshirt. From his first record to his last he had the crowd going wild, his mixing was top notch and there were several times when he held up the record he had just taken off in response to the crowds reaction to his mixes and song choices.

I was dancing like a maniac and everyone was loving the relaxed and friendly atmosphere that was going on throughout the Hidden Lane. Me, Reddy and Marty were all punching the air at some of the tunes, again it felt like Ibiza in Glasgow!

There was a great moment when Ronan from La Chunky came out of the studio with his trombone and jammed along with the funky house track that the DJ was playing. Everyone loved it.

(the Easton clan)

All in all a top night and a brilliant little festival - free to get into and you could take your own booze! To say we were a well lubricated at the end of the night was to put it mildly - but it was all good fun and we had a great laugh. I hope they have FRC's back next year!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Paul McCartney, Hampden Park in Glasgow, 20th June 2010

I've just about recovered from Paul McCartney's concert at Hampden Park where the great man played an outstanding 3 hour set. That he could do this and leave out songs like Got To Get You Into My Life, Penny Lane and She Loves You is testament to his back catalogue. It was all i could talk or think about for two days afterwards.

The day started early as I got a taxi to Craig's flat in the Southside of Glagsow, a mere 10-minute walk from Hampden. Macca's solo albums and Wings songs were the soundtrack to the start of the afternoon as watched the Paraguay game and drank a couple of beers before moving on to Sailor Jerry's. With the sun beating down on Glasgow, Craig, Mick and I opted to head to the Clockwork pub to sit in the beer garden. After another couple of beers and Sailor Jerry's we led a sing-song of 'Let Me Roll It' followed by 'Hey Jude' with a lovely group of elderly guys and girls that looked a similar age to Macca - only Sir Paul doesn't really look his age.

Our friend Ross was playing guitar in Sharleen Spiteri's band so we walked up the hill to Hampden, opting not to buy a £10 programme. Sharleen Spiteri came on at the back of 6pm with many of the crowd choosing to stay in the beer gardens around the stadium rather than come in to see her. Our seats were in block AA6, row Z, 26 rows from the front. Sharleen Spiteri wisely opted to play Texas songs rather than her solo material and it went down quite well, we shouted 'Rosco' between songs and I think we might have embarrased him slightly - woops.

On to the main event. A montage of photos and graphics was displayed on the large screens at both sides of the stage, covers of 'You Can't Do That' and 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' were played along with lesser known McCartney numbers like 'Temporary Secretary' and 'Coming Up'.

The atmosphere was electric as a slim and trim looking McCartney bounded on to the stage, only to tell us that he was starting with a technical glitch and he'd have to talk to us for a bit. Formalities over, Macca launched into 'Venus and Mars' before piling headlong into 'Jet', barely pausing for breath before leading a crowd sing-a-long of The Beatles classic 'All My Loving', the song they played on the Ed Sullivan Show when they conqueored America all those years ago.

McCartney, age 68, was looking fantastic and clearly responding to the enthusiasm of the crowd. Fifth song in was 'Drive My Car', pure pop with the crowd loving the 'peep peep, peep peep, yeah' hook. It's teenage pop, but it was being enjoyed by several generations of music fans. I met my friend Ian Pilbeam who had brought his wife and two kids (not even teenagers) along. I imagine they will thank their Dad later in life.

There was a real cup final atmosphere to the occasion, fitting given that the concert took place at the home of Scottish football, and there were several Hampden roars that the Tartan Army would have been proud of.

The song that we sung in the beer garden 'Let Me Roll It' was sung with real gusto, written in response to Lennon's bitter and twisted 'How Do You Sleep?' this was Macca wearing his heart on his sleeve 'I can't tell you how I feel, my heart is like a wheel, let me roll it, let me roll it to you'. The biting guitar riff cut through the warm summer air and sent tingles down my spine, it was a great moment.

McCartney was bounding around the stage with the energy of a youngster, swapping bass for guitar, leaping up to play piano and the back down to play bass, raising his bass/guitar like it was a trophy after every song. Paul grinned, his band all smiled like kids in a sweet shop and the crowd lapped it up, this was a gig to savour.

'The Long and Winding Road' was sung heartily by Hampden, its poignant melancolic vibe caused people to put their arms around loved ones, while the soaring guitar solo prompted pthers to play air guitar and then punch the air as the line 'and still they lead me back…' came back in afterwards. 'My Love' was dedicated to Linda, 'is everywhere with my love, and my love does it good' - so simple, so lovely.

'I've Just Seen A Face' was a real highlight for me as it is one of my favourite McCartney songs, a hidden gem on the Help! album. It's fast paced, yet mellow, the driving beat and the beautiful guitar riff just about keep up with the lyrics 'I've just seen a face, I can't forget the time or place, when we first met, she just a girl for me, but I want all the world to see we've me, di di di da de di'. McCartney rattled through this with a huge grin on his face - much like the audience.

Slowing things down Paul played 'And I Love Her' before his band (and what a band they are) departed the stage to allow Paul to play 'Blackbird' solo.

'Here Today' was dedicated to John Lennon and when McCartney sang 'and I am holding back the tears no more' it genuinely looked like he had a tear in his eye. I am sure a few people in the audience may well have shed a tear or two.

'Dance Tonight' is a beautiful little song that bounces and waltzes along and after quite a few beers we were bouncing around at this point, spilling out into the aisle where the stewards attempted to get us to go back to our seats (not that anyone was sitting) only for Mick to start dancing with one of them. Thankfully for them 'Eleanor Rigby' was next and you can't really dance or jump around to that one.

Next up was another poignant moment as Macca played 'Something' on a ukelele given to him by the late great George Harrison. A carefully chosen selection of photos from Paul's personal collection were displayed on the big screen behind him. George looking typically cool, playing the fool, with long hair, with his mop top, in the sunshine, in the snow. What an adventure their friendship was.

The band kicked in halfway through the song and lifted it to a higher place as everyone sang along. 'Something' is a truly beautiful song, the middle eight 'you're asking me how my love grows, I don't know, I don't know, you stick around now and it may show, I don't know, I don't know' before one of the most delicate and thoughtful guitar solos of all time kick in - it's all stunning.

'Band On The Run' was a predictable highlight of the set, the song changing style and pace throughout, all the while McCartney's melodies and sweet voice moving with it. 'Sing The Changes' was next, a 'cover' of Sir Paul's secret disguise The Fireman.

'Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da' kicked the party back into life and was swiftly followed by a rocking 'Back In The USSR'. The feel-good atmosphere at this gig was magnificent, with Sir Paul and his band looking like they were having as much fun as the band. On more than one occasion McCartney finished a song at the piano and took 10-seconds to lean on it taking in the sight and noise of the crowd responding to his songs. And then on guitar he paused and said 'I'm gonna take a minute to take this all in'.

'I've Got A Feeling' with it's circular guitar riff was an unexpected treat and it was swiftly followed by the classic 'Paperback Writer' that prompted mass dancing. It's classic McCartney, flowing at pace and just when you think it is going to stop it keeps on flowing.

'A Day In The Life' merged into 'Give Peace A Chance' and before we knew it we were on to 'Let It Be' which was an emotional moment. That run of unbelievable songs had some legs in it yet and it was on to 'Live and Let Die' complete with flames and fireworks over that memorably cinematic riff. Not many songs could follow, but Macca pulled out 'Hey Jude' leading the crowd in a mass chorus.

I'm exhausted writing this, but Macca stull had more to give, coming on for a 3-song encore of 'Day Tripper' (what a way to start an encore - immediately lifting the crowd again) followed by 'Lady Madonna' and a romp through 'Get Back.'

The crowd called for more and Macca didn't disappoint, retruning alone to play 'Yesterday' before being joined by a full pipe band for another big love-in chorus sing-a-long with 'Mull of Kintyre'. Macca quickly changed style to then play a ferocious 'Helter Skelter', prompting mass dancing in the aisles and when a security guard tried to stop us Mic ended up dancing with her!

Macca's little snippets of conversation throughout kept a smile on everyones faces and there was a brilliant moment before his final song of the evening when he said 'this is our last one' only to be met by a chorus of boos. Swiftly responding he said 'we've got to go home' only to be met by more boos. What followed was a moment of pure pantomime with Macca saying 'YOU'VE got to go hom' only to be met by a big 'nnnnooooooo', and for him to say 'yeeeeesss', 'nnnooooooo' and then Sir Paul delivered the 'Och Aye' punchline.

Through the laughter ringing through the stadium the came the opening chords and beat of 'Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band', segueing effortlessly into 'The End' with Macca looking like he was having the time of his life on the 'love you' harmonies.

'and in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love, you make.'

Sir Paul took a lot of love with him as he left Hampden Park last night, but he made a lot too. A gig that will live long in the memory, a brilliant night when a 68-year old Paul McCartney rolled back the years with a mammoth 3-hour, 36-song set that left the crowd in raptures.

Thanks Paul.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Ray Summers, Sonny Marvello and Stevie & the Moon at Captain's Rest

Not many people would choose to spend one of the sunniest and warmest evening of the year in a hot and sweaty West End basement. However, those that did were treated to 3 stunning performances by Stevie and the Moon, Sonny Marvello and The Ray Summers.

Anyone reading this who is remotely aware of the independent music scene in Glasgow will know that the 3 bands mentioned above are all excellent, The Ray Summers have sold out King Tuts three times, supported The Charlatans, released 2 singles and were fresh from Rock Ness, Sonny Marvello released their debut single earlier this year and celebrated by packing out Stereo, while Stevie & the Moon have just released a gem of a mini-album that is gathering heaps of praise.

All 3 acts were giving up their time for Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres, the charity I work for. Maggie's Centres provide a unique mix of practical, emotional and pschological support to anyone affected by cancer, as well as their family and friends. All services are completely free and no appointment is necessary. The Glasgow Centre, less than a mile from the Captain's Rest, received over 14,000 visits from people living with cancer in 2009. We work it out that it costs around £30 per visit to pay for the centres to run.

Last night, after buying the bands some well earned beers and paying the sound engineer for a great job, just over £300 was raised for Maggie's - essentially covering the costs of over 100 visits to the centre. When you consider that some people visit moments after receiving the shocking news of a diagnosis of cancer, each of these visits can be life-changing.

For more information on Maggie's please visit

The night started with a nice bottle of Magners in the McPhabs beer garden with some work coleagues before I wandered round to the good Captain's. The heat in the bar hit me instantly and for once it was actually cooler in the basement. The bands soon arrived and soundchecks went well, with a lot of thanks to Gav the sound engineer (formerly of Findo Gask).

With the football on upstairs I was hoping to kick off the night at full-time, but with 3-bands to get through Stevie & the Moon started at 9.05pm with the barmaid ringing a bell to send people downstairs. Stevie had brought a good crowd to catch them and it was good to see the other bands going down to check them out too, as well as their mates and fans. I was on the door at the top of the stairs for most of the set but could hear it clearly and thankfully Lynn came and took over the door so I could go down to catch the last 3 songs, including the excellent 'Born Again'. Stevie's voice is exceptionally clear and incredibly soulful and he was really getting into it, earning a great ovation from the crowd. Anyone going out to catch Stevie & the Moon on their current tour is in for a treat. It's a young band all really up for it and playing with smiles mixed with determination on their faces.

After a short changeover it was the turn of Sonny Marvello and again I was on the door for the first half of the set and Lynn for the second. I could hear the cheers as the boys launched into 'Easy Boys' followed by 'Pull Me Up' - two 3-minute guitar pop songs full of hooks and chiming guitars. By the time I got down Stephen (voclas) had lost his trademark red bowler hat due to the heat and the band were working up a sweat. 'Tiny Little Sparks' practically exploded into life, the harmonies near the end of the song followed by an epic guitar riff more suitable to Hampden that the Captain's. New song 'Never Smile' was instantly catchy and 'My Lover' took in Blur via the Bee Gees. It was a great set, but then it always is.

Having seen The Ray Summers at Oran Mor (headlining) and the Barrowlands (supporting The Charlatans) I was really looking forward to seeing them in a smaller venue. They didn't disappoint. Closing up the door with everyone packed into the basement I caught all of their set. They clearlry enjoyed playing in peoples faces and the energy they generated on stage could have powered all of Glasgow. The Ray Summers take in influences from the 60's to present day. The guitars are loud, yet melodic and it is to their credit that you never know where they are going to go next, soaring off to new heights during middle eights and choruses. Andrew on lead vocals sang his heart out, the whole set was an absolute joy to watch but special mentions must go to 'Heshka Rashka' at the end of the set when the band were on fire, tearing through it with a ferocity that music fans rarely see. An incredibly tight band and one that you should check out some time soon.

Thanks to everyone that came along and to all the bands for their time and support. It was a great night.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Go North and Rock Ness 2010

Well I have just about recovered from 5-days of music and fun. From Thursday through to Sunday I was up at GoNorth and Rock Ness and last night I was in Brel for a special show with Miaoux Miaoux and Futuristic Retro Champions. I'll blog separately about the Brel show. So here goes with what I can remember from the weekend….

Thursday 10th June   
Lynn and I left the house around 10.15am for the drive north to Inverness, soundtracked by Blondie, Vampire Weekend and The Strokes. The sun was shining and we arrived in good time to check into the excellent Redcliffe Hotel just before 2pm.

We dumped our stuff and headed into town to pick up our pre-booked bus tickets to Rock Ness for the weekend. Citylinking were providing shuttle buses to and from the site and they proved to be excellent. Lynn decided it was a bit colder than anticipated and went back to the hotel to change while I nipped into the Ramada for a GoNorth session on music management featuring the managers of Primal Scream, Wet Wet Wet (and Texas), Stevie Wonder and The View. It proved to be a very useful session with some entertaining stories involving Mani and Bobby G.

I caught up with Lynn and we then headed to the excellent Castle Tavern to meet Julian (aka Miaoux Miaoux) and his brother Ben who were tucking into some very tasty looking food. We joined them for a beer and then decided to head back into the Town Centre for a 5.30pm meeting outside the Mad Hatters with the Detour team. is a multi-media extravaganza that started late in 2009. It is led by two guys with energy, passion, ideas and a love of music and fun. They run a podcast, kidnap bands and take them to play in strange locations and have progressed from a monthly night in Glasgow to monthly tours taking in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness.

For GoNorth they decided to run a magical mystery tour to an Island in the middle of the River Ness, so armed with cans of beer and led by haribo's and the promise of Jaffa Cakes at the destination - as well as a live performance by Bronto Skylift - we set off. Also making the journey was author, journalist, musician and DJ John Robb (Goldblade) who has written the fantastic book 'The Stone Roses and the Resurrection of British Pop'. Being a huge Roses fan I took the time to chat to John and he was very friendly and keen to chat. I introduced him to my friend Craig who is currently working on an excellent project in Manchester called Orange Rockcorps where people volunteer their time and are rewarded with amazing gigs and club nights in return. John was very interested in the project and offered to help in whatever way he could - what a nice guy!

The sun was splitting the sky as we waked along the river, crossing a bridge on to a small leafy island. Our hosts led us to a small ampitheatre with Bronto Skylift in the middle with a small dumkit, mic and a couple of amps. After the jaffa cakes appeared and a beer was cracked, Bronto Skylift burst into life with some ferocious tunes, clearly enjoying the setting and the chance to play to some people who had probably never heard of them before - let alone heard their music. Their short sharp 20-minute set wasn't to everyone's liking judging by the lack of interest in the cd's they were selling afterwards, but the crowd gave them a good cheer for their efforts.

We headed back into town and Lynn and I went to dinner with Craig, while Julian and Ben went to get the equipment for the night. After some much needed food our energy was restored for the night ahead and we wandered over to Mad Hatters (above Hootanny's) to check in. Miaoux Miaoux came on at 8.30pm sharp. At 8.25pm I was a little worried that there were only 5 people in the room, but such is the nature of multi-venue events that at 8.30pm on the dot people started to arrive from nearby venues and by the end of the first song there was a crowd of 30 plus.

I did have issues with the sound guy who really didn't seem to know what he was doing, it should have been a lot louder and I think he took even more stick from Ben. Meanwhile Miaoux Miaoux was charming the crowd with a mix of tracks off his debut album 'Rainbow Bubbles' and his EP 'Blooms' and the room didn't seem to mind the volume. Miaoux Miaoux's ability to move between creating beats, melodies, guitar riffs and beautiful vocals is always a joy to watch and it was great to watch the response in the room.

The sound kicked in towards the end of the set and new track 'Knitted' got feet moving and heads nodding before the stunning 'Snow' with brought the set to a close. The gradual progression from a guitar riff and lopped piano into the start of the song is one of the best things I have heard in a while and it only gets better with the verse leading to a 'woah-oh' before the refrain of 'I know I can't be my own best friend, I know I can't be my own best friend'. Check it out at

After packing up we came back down to find a very interesting looking band called Mothercoat setting up on stage. Coming from Japan this was quite a trip for them and it was pleasing to see that the Miaoux Miaoux crowd hung around and were joined by quite a few more. The band had their own sound engineer and the difference was notable. Shame that GoNorth had such an inexperience sound engineer for other bands - you never know who is going to be watching you so it is important to get the sound right.

Enough of my moaning - Mothercoat rocked Inverness. Their punk pop vibe, cool look, music and songs went down a treat. I imagine that a lot of the crowd had been drinking most of the evening, so to come on at 9.30pm with energetic and eclectic music was perfect timing. The crowd lapped it up and the band were suitably charged as a result, racing through a briliant set, only pausing to speak in broken English and thank the crowd for coming. The front guy played synths and guitar and was wiry and looked like he might explode with excitement, the cute girl bass player sang a couple of tunes and kept the groove going along with the drummer, while the lead guitarist threw poses that wouldn't have looked out of place at Hampden.

It's always exciting to catch a new band and be in the right place at the right time - this was definitely one of them.

In need of fresh air, we went out on to the street to decide where to go next. My memory escapes me but I think we went across the road to see The Law, deciding to leave almost as soona s we arrived. Heading down the street we popped into the City Bar and caught a bit of Kitty The Lion's set. The band (complete with double bass) were crammed into a space at the front of the pub at floor level and this seemed to help with the atmosphere. I think the later you go on at GoNorth - the better.

We left as the band finished to hot foot across town to try to catch Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers and just caught their last two songs while ordering drinks at the bar. By this stage people were openly wandering around the streets with beer and wine glasses, so we joined them and attempted to catch the end of Meursalt, only to fail and head to the closing party at the Ironworks.

The first act on LED were clearly influenced by Daft Punk in terms of visual content (dressed in black suits and masks but with dayglo edges) and music - no bad thing. Everyone was in the mood to party and these guys got the party started. Sadly it all went a little flat after that when a Scottish hip hop act came on that were terrible.

So with that we headed off to our hotel and crashed out.

Friday 11th June
We set the alarm for 9am so we could head down for breakfast before the 9.30am curfew. We met Craig and Leeanne who looked as rough as us and we all tucked into a Scottish breakfast and discussed our plans for the day. Craig was dj-ing at the Strongbow tent so was heading to the site early, while I wanted to attend a couple of GoNorth workshops while Lynn wandered around the shops.

I met Julian at the Ramada at noon and we had a good chat before heading to a PRS and PPL workshop and Making Money From Music - both were very good. I then met Lynn and we headed to get the 4pm bus to Rock Ness with Julian saying he would wait for his brother to finish some work and get us in there.

The bus only took 20-minutes to get to the site and we picked up our passes for the weekend. Upon entering the site we were amazed at how 'up for it' the crowd were, with the outdoor Rizla arena resembling a scene from Ibiza. We headed straight to the Strongbow tent and bumped into our friend Andrew who told us that Nevada Base were playing the Wisemans tent at the back of 5pm. So we promptly headed over there and also met Laura and Kirsten from Pooch and enjoyed a good chat before settling down to enjoy Nevada Base do what they do in somewhat strange surroundings. They played their usual cool set, electro/house/disco combining to create something quite special - think DFA and LCD Soundsystem and you are on the right track.

Crystal Castles were the first band on the main stage and we wandered down to see them. There was a big crowd there and they came on to a great ovation with the singer Alice Glass seemingly intent on living the rock star dream by walking on swigging from a bottle of Jack Daniels. They made a lot of noise without staring a song and created a big surge at the front, resulting in security coming on and asking everyone to calm down and take 3 steps back. This didn't seem to matter to Glass who jumped on the drum riser and proceeded to smash at cymbols with her mic and come back down the front and attempt to jump in the crowd. By this stage we lost interest and went back to the Strongbow tent.

As we gradually topped up the previous nights alcohol levels, we wandered around the site and after hanging out at the Strongbow tent again (something that would prove to be a regular occurrence over the weekend) we headed to the Main Stage for Friendly Fires. The festival site slopes down into a natural arena with a lovely view of Loch Ness, the stage perched in front, a cracking setting for a festival/gig.

The sound proved to be a little disappointing however, despite the band brining in a horn section for the occasion. Ed MacFarlane shimmied around the stage, but in all honesty he doesn't have the presence or charisma of a Bobby Gillespe, Ian Brown or Tim Burgess. He didn't exactly give the audience confidence when he said things like 'we'll get going yet' or 'we're just getting started' more than halfway through the bands set. 'Skeleton Boy' did liftt things, but this wasn't a great set.

After a quick wander we were back at the main stage for Fatboy Slim in his 'spiritual home' and things started promisingly when he came on stage to 'Praise You' only for the set to develop into a rather heavy and hard hitting one that went down well with the majority of the crowd, but not with me and Lynn so we opted for an early bus back to the hotel and a good nights kip. Party animals that we are, but it really wasn't our type of music.

Saturday 12th June
Exhausted after 2-days/nights drinking and socialising we opted to miss breakfast and lay in bed until after 11am. It was nice to have a shower and wander into town to get some food from a brilliant Hog Roast stall before getting the bus back to the site. We got in in time to see Craig McGee dj-ing at the Strongbow Tent and he got the crowd going by playing New Order, Stone Roses, LCD Soundsystem and Happy Mondays - as well as some banging tunes the party people.

My memory is a little hazy but we caught Any Colour Black later that afternoon in the Strongbow Tent as well as Brian from Spectrum dj-ing. ACB played really well and the Strongbow tent must be congratulated for putting on so many unsigned bands from Scotland alongside some great dj's.

Either before or just after that we caught Mothercoat playing the GoNorth tent and they drew a good crowd following the buzz performance from GoNorth. They were very excited again and ended the set with all of them up on the drum riser banging everything in sight.

The sun came out from behind a cloud and we caught Plan B on the main stage. I recognised a couple of his recent hits and his band were very tight, all in all not a bad set.

Next up was 2 Many DJ's. One of the best nights I have ever had out clubbing was when Too Many DJ's played the Arches in Glasgow, cutting and pasting their way through music of many genres, dropping 'Seven Nation Army' by the White Stripes several times to a rapturous reception.

Around this time I spotted the singer from Mothercoat on someone's shoulders bouncing around like a loony. The guy then proceeded to get his cock out with the rest of Mothercoat looking on and taking pictures - welcome to Scotland!

They didn't disappoint the Rock Ness crowd, playing an incredible mix and showcasing their fantastic taste in music and their mixing abilities. One of many highlights was MGMT's 'Kids' and when they dropped in several songs with Money in the title - including Abba and Pink Floyd - with the graphic in the background  displaying the sleeves, they ended cutting them up too.

Feeling good, we headed to the GoNorth tent to meet Julian before his set. Being on at the same time as Ian Brown and Aphex Twin wasn't ideal, but Miaoux Miaoux played a brilliant set to a small but ever growing crowd (Ian Brown was awful).

'Pixellated' stood out immediately, but in truth it was all good, with 'Knitted' and 'Snow' again saved for last and again receiving a great response. If a positive response is people coming up to buy cd's at the end - then Miaoux Miaoux received one. The mix of electronica and pop leaving people with smiles on their faces.

After bidding Julian, Ben and Anneleise goodbye (they were heading back to Glasgow), Lynn and I managed to catch the end of Ian Brown's set with Murray and Diane - we wished we hadn't bothered.

As someone who is a huge Stone Roses fan it saddens me to hear Ian Brown live. His voice has got progressively worse over the years to the extent where many people simply turned and walked away towards Aphex Twin or Miaoux Miaoux.

When asked to support The Rolling Stones in 1990, Ian Brown said 'it's a shame they don't have any friends honest enough to tell them to give it up.' Although Brown has produced moments of genuine quality in his solo career, someone close to him needs to mention that singing lessons might be a good idea, otherwise even the most loyal follower (and Brown has many) will start to desert his live gigs.

Saturday night ended on a high note with an absolutely outstanding performance by Leftfield. The bass rumbled, the beats were crystal clear, the musicians were tight and the guest vocals were euphoric. 'Original' came in early on but the real highlight was 'Rythm and Stealth' with the singer really working the crowd before and after.

'Leftism' is an album I will be digging out again this week, from the response of the crowd it is an album that holds a special place in the hearts of many.

Sunday 13th June
We made it for breakfast and met a very hungover Leeanne. Craig was enthusing about Leftfield from the night before and I am still pretty blown away by the performance. Eager to get rid of our hangovers, Lynn and I walked into town after a full Scottish breakfast and I bought some Wellies as it was a little damp after some decent weather to date - the odd burst of pure sunshine - but dry throughout.

After a power nap we were back on the road to Rock Ness and arrived at the Strongbow Tent for 2.30pm to watch Admiral Fallow a band I had thoroughly enjoyed watching at the Buff Club in Glasgow a couple of weeks before. The rain probably meant that they got a bigger crowd than expected and to be honest Rock Ness wasn't the right setting for their style of music, something that lead singer Louis Abbot freely admitted on stage. Still they played well and got a good response to songs like 'Subbuteo'.

We then headed for a wander and the sun came out for a bit before we headed back to the Strongbow Tent to watch Vendor Defender. I know the band and their manager and I knew this was a big moment for them, particularly as the band had been through an emotional time lately.
So it was great to see such a large crowd gather for them (again the rain may have helped but they genuinely had a lot of people there who knew the words to some songs) and they tore through the first song 'Passing Time'. Drummer Fraser and bass player Suse locked into grooves and Zak sang his heart out, ending with a glorious 'Golden Shivers'.

Sunday was the day with the best line-up (at least for our musical tastes) and the rest of the day was pretty much spent at the main stage watching the excellent line-up of Blondie, Doves, Vampire Weekend and The Strokes. Impressive by any festivals standards.

Blondie kicked things off to an expectant crowd. Debbie Harry strode on to a huge cheer in a peroxide wig. The band disappointed a little by playing a new song/old song set. So although they could have played more hits, the likes of 'Atomic' and 'Heart of Glass' generated an amazing response. They probably drew the biggest crowd of the weekend. 

Doves reminded me what a great band they are and I vowed to dig out my old cd's and vinyl on my return home. Jim Goodwin's melancholic vocals and the bands ability to lift songs to higher places meant that 'Catch The Sun', 'Pounding', 'Kingdom of Rust', 'Black & White Town' and a euphoric 'There Goes The Fear' suited the time of day and crowd perfectly. A brilliant band, Doves back catalogue must stand up against the best of them. 

I enjoyed catching Vampire Weekend a couple of years ago at the Barrowlands and they didn't disappoint at Rock Ness. Their warm humour and energy meant an instant rapport with the crowd. Mixing songs from both album, their clever melodies and lyrics, full of hooks and memorable riffs, went down well with the crowd.

The Strokes took to the stage just before dark and tore into 'Take It Or Leave It', with the vast majority of the crowd choosing to take it. They ripped through songs from their debut album, throwing in a few from the second for good measure. 'Last Night' may well have got the biggest cheer of the weekend. 

Phew - I'm shattered. Great weekend in a stunning location, lots of good bands and dj's, a very friendly atmosphere and a very up for it crowd.

Some photos may follow when I have the time and energy!