Wickerman 2010… In The Summertime

‘Help me, Help me, Help me sail away’ - the lyrics from this pleasant little Kinks number seem to recall the fun had by all attending this years Wickerman Festival. Although the pleasant ‘English Green’ sounds of the Kinks and the life of luxury may be but a distant land from life up here in the North, The Northern line found nout but goodness, frivolous fun and summer magic emanating from East Kircarswall Farm, Scotland on the 23rd and 24th July.

With the summer festival season in full and glorious swing, Wickerman 2010 is firmly positioned as one of the hot spots on the Scottish festival calendar. With a laid back and family friendly ethos, yet still somewhat alternative and eclectic the Wickerman appeals to the Northern Line’s discerning taste, managing to retain that little something that separates it from more mainstream events.

Now in its ninth year and attracting crowds of approximately 15000, this independent and non corporate 2 day festival is run by farmer James Gilroy, who has only recently begun to see the festival make a profit. Swapping herding cows for the rock n roll dream, and with Sid Ambrose providing artistic direction, he was initially determined to utilize the land for more interesting uses following outbreaks of BSE and foot and mouth disease swiping areas of the UK.

This years event was particularly well hosted and managed with the party atmosphere enjoyed by all, helped by particularly good weather on the first day. An eclectic mix of artists performed to a sea of sun-bathed festival-goers. Topping the Friday night was a comeback set from the nineties melodic grunge pop gurus ‘Teenage Fanclub’, armed with material form their recent album release, ‘Shadows‘. As the band set up they were accompanied by ‘Guitar George’ – ‘he knows all the chords man’ -  his love of all things melodic; a suitably fitting companion on the road again.

In a similar vein, ‘The Charlatans’ headlined with highlights from their back catalogue proving most welcome to the audience. Besides other well known crowd pleasing acts such as Welsh Rappers – ‘Goldie Looking Chain’ and the ever suave Tony Christie, (I was unaware quite how legendary an entertainer the man is, probably on a par with the likes of Petula Clark, Neil Diamond and Sir Cliff perhaps!) the event also hosted a plethora of emerging acts nestled beside more legendary acts from a few years back such as the pop punk sounds of ‘The Buzzcocks’ and the mighty ‘Undertones’.

It is almost a travesty not to mention other credible performances on the main stages by acts such as Newcastle’s ‘Little Comets’ whose jangily pop and vocal harmonies provided great entertainment, as did ‘I am Arrows’ fronted by ex ‘Razorlight’ drummer, Andy Burrows who greeted the audience with a collection of songs entwined with a chilled summer vibe, oceans apart from the ever energetic choruses of Brighton’s ‘Go Team’ on the following day.

Set in stunning surrounds and overlooked by the giant wickerman, that is ceremoniously torched at the end of the festivities, Wickerman 2010 was a text book summer festival, with compliments due to the management for enabling no queues to the bar and clean toilets with other little things that make the festival experience that bit more refreshing.

The Solus tent was a melting point of emerging talent with ‘Django Django’, and the awesomely uplifting and electro sounds of ‘Unicorn Kid’ following support sets from ‘Make sparks‘ and the raucous & conquering sounds of ‘United Fruit’ amongst many others.

I could go on…. this event should be credited for the diverse and eclectic mix of music on show bringing acts like Glasgow’s ‘Sons & Daughters’ to the main stage, who managed to woo the crowd with their stomping, sinister and melodic indie riffs, and not forgetting the funny bunch of reprobates such as ‘The Sex Pistols Experience’ – endorsed by members of the original band they look and sound uncannily like the real thing and generally swore alot between numbers. I haven’t even mentioned the acoustic tent, the Axis Soundsystem Reggae tent and the Bass Camp Dance area which grooved away till 5am each night, whilst families and worn out revellers were tucked up in their tents. I’m going back next year and guess what, I Can’t wait!

for more pics see Toms Flickr site here
Guitar George
The Sex Pistols Experience
Sons n Daughters
Unicorn Kid

By Tom Manley on August 20, 2010


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