Classic Scot Rock: Big Country


Thursday, 11 September 2014

In A Big Country Park

Midfest: Dalkeith Country Park.

Living in the Lothians just outside of Edinburgh, we have lot's of country side and park's to wander around on the weekend's. Very near to me and one i enjoy is Dalkeith Country park, every time i walk through i comment that it would be nice to have a small festival here. Well they must have heard me because it happened: Midfest, a weekend festival celebrating the art's and Scottish music - New and old.

Got in to the festival a touch late and missed a few younger artist's but in time for one of Edinburgh's hottest band's The Merrylees, who are fresh off the back of a Paul Weller tour. I walk in as their new Richard Hawley produced single Forever More is floating out from the stage. The lads seem to be going from strength to strength. Nice laid back vibes from the young 5- piece, all members looking more like they've just come back off a 1969 tour with The Byrds. 
Their set is Psych induced indie pop, very accessible to all but not throwaway sounds. The crowd of all ages seem to be getting involved dancing along. We get galloping mariachi tinged vibes on For You and Johnny Cash vs Ennio Morricone on closer Ghostrider's in the sky. Quality cover to finish.

Now Bay city Rollers are not a band i would say i'm a fan of , nether-less i watch original songwriter and guitarist Eric Faulkner, who entertains and provides professional musicianship working the Scottish crowd with 70's classics Bye Bye Baby. Swapping guitar for fiddle at one point  and saying " Thank you you sicko's " in between one number. Guitar and drum solo's are there before a sprinkling of new tune Money, Honey. The tight band get a appreciative cheer and singalong for Shang - a - Lang. I'm sure many ladies had been taken back to being adoring teenagers for a short while.

Bombskare are a blast, providing upfront, energetic and made for festival music. The 9-piece ska fanatics only just fit on the stage, nearly ever member is dancing and animated. Lead man in pork pie hat looking like a love child of Madness and Bad manners. Beginning their set with a made for dancing instrumental.

Working through uplifting tunes, even the sun comes out for their summer drenched set. Crime of the century hit's our ears and all are dancing along, drink in the air. The brass section race back n forth across the stage. "This song will sound better in a independent Scotland"  is heard from the stage before we are treated to a cracking cover of The Bangles - Walk like an Egyptian . On their set closer they tease us with a few notes of the James Bond theme tune before they give in and finish with the full piece. They have definitely left us shaken and stirred.

Today is a special day for classic Scottish pop with 70's hit makers Pilot who play their first gig together in 30 years, original members David Paton and Ian Bairnson who have previously recorded new material together , take the stage with fellow musicians. Paton still has the voice and at times his vocal style is not unlike Paul McCartney. His loose smooth vocals sing 70's soft rock, a new tune reminds me of Cliff Richard's-  Devil Women, a song which we're told is lifted from their new album A Pilot Project: a nod to both Pilot and The Alan Parsons Project , which both artists were in together but again like Bay City Rollers it's the hit's the audience want to hear: Magic and January don't disappoint. 

It's been a long while since i first and last saw this band, luckily i did witness the full original sound of Big Country with the late-great and sadly missed Stuart Adamson. Tonight i witness only Bruce Watson and Mark Brzezicki from the original band but after Tony Butler retired original Simple Minds bassiest Derek Forbes stepped in. Jamie ( Bruce's son ) Watson and new singer Simon Hough, who does a tremendous job of recreating the Adamson sound on vocals fill the line-up. 

By the time they kick in to opener Harvest Time the crowd including young and old (Some on shoulders of others ) are jumping and ready for a night of Scottish rock at it's classic best. The band joyous and celebratory, all clearly enjoying playing together. Look away we all sing along. Just a shadow is introduced " 30 years ago we recorded Steel town and we will be going on tour celebrating it"
Chance unites us all with a huge sing-along before a snippet of Simple Minds - Waterfall is heard, all members looking and laughing respectively at forbes. The classic In a big country and wonderland follow before the big uplifting finale of Fields of fire leaves the crowd ablaze and wanting more.

Now let's get something straight! I love electronic dance music, i lived through rave and enjoyed 808 state, The prodigy, Orbital and still enjoy all the above but what the hell is QFX? We're told get ready for dancing. I'm sure the guys and D.J on stage love Old Skool music but this isn't it! High octane dancers throw themselves around like a kitten on catnip, the M.C is like a fairground ride controller. I'm sure at one point he said "Scream if you want to go faster". Covering 2 -unlimited? Their hit Everytime you touch me sounds okay, they also do not a bad version of Bullet in the gun and Set you free. Granted the singer can sing but i would rather spend a hour stuck in a lift with David Guetta talking EDM than see these again. Sorry Guys.

( Everytime you touch me video )

Which leaves The View to close the day. Not a big fan of the band though i respect them being working class Scottish heroes and i do like Superstar Tradesman. The place is rammed at this point, really hard to get a clear picture being the height of a hobbit but they fire in "We're the view" says lead man Kyle falconer before launching in to punchy - punk tinged - indie rock, the young up for it crowd hang on to ever tune.

 One nutter is on his mates shoulders letting off a flare (Tut, what would their mum say). Clearly the Dundee lads are still a draw and a good choice of a headliner for a Saturday night in Dalkeith.

 Unfortunately i leave the younger crowd to it to catch the bus home. All in all a well organised day and nice diversity in Scottish music, if the festival is on next year, i'll be there as long as they don't ask QVC or whatever their name was to come back.