I turned 37 in April, and, while my age seldom bothers me, I find myself having fewer and fewer adventures as time ticks on. Consequently, when one such adventure presented itself, I leapt at the opportunity to throw myself headlong into it. And what an adventure it was…

I’ve known Tony for several years, and we’ve enjoyed some sterling nights out together. So when he asked if I’d care to join him at the Wickerman Festival, I said yes straight away. This was in May, and the warm days of the following months were filled with anticipation of my, rather our, weekend away.

I began to prepare in earnest two days prior to departure. First order of business: music for the two-and-a-half-hour car journey. The art of the mixtape is not lost on me, and I spent several happy hours compiling the perfect soundtrack to our journey. Then my wife took over preparations.

My wife is organised. I am not. My wife likes to be in control; I enjoy the quiet life, and so I tend to follow her instructions in order to maintain peace. She took me shopping for essentials; Wellington boots, baby wipes, energy drinks, Snickers bars. She then tried to take me shopping for non-essentials; razors, shampoo, a sun hat, flip-flops (despite our having been married for eight years, she still labours under the misapprehension that people might take some pleasure from seeing my frankly gruesome feet). I left the supermarket considerably lighter of pocket, but doubtless prepared for any and every eventuality.

Left alone to pack, I took advantage of my wife’s absence and hid the vast majority of items which she had left out for me to take. For a three day trip, she had proposed that I pack six t-shirts, six pairs of pants, five (not six) pairs of socks, two dress shirts, a waterproof jacket, a hoodie, a jumper, two hats and two pairs of jeans. After a brief glance at the weather forecast, I discarded all but two t-shirts, enough underwear to change daily, a shirt on the off-chance that it became cold at night, and a spare pair of shorts. And, of course, booze. Lots of it.

The day of departure duly arrived, as did the gallant Tony, my driver and partner in mischief. Surreptitiously placing the booze bag between my feet, and sliding the first of four CDs into the player, I strapped myself in and we started off on a lengthy journey of wrong turns, missed exits, grubby toilets and, in my case, several cans of cider.

Tony was something of a Wickerman veteran, and, upon reaching the site, guided us effortlessly to our home for the weekend. A master of the swift erection, Tony had the tent up in no time and by midday we were ready for the fun to begin in earnest.

The Wickerman site is compact but by no means crowded, and we navigated with ease around the six or so stages and the numerous bars. Investing in more bar tokens than I’d care to admit publicly, we sat down in the sun with pint and programme, and set about scheduling the next two days.

For a relatively small festival, Wickerman generally attracts some truly incredible acts, and this year was no different. Despite my ambivalence towards KT Tunstell and Amy MacDonald, I found a virtual galaxy of stars to enjoy. With plans made, we headed up to what would soon become the centre of our festival experience, the Acoustic Village.

Curated by the tireless and, frankly, wonderful Nicola Black, the Acoustic Village consists of two stages, the main acoustic stage and the Ingrid Pitt stage. Also part of the village is the artists’ campsite which is where Tony and I spent a good deal of our time. The people in and around the Acoustic Village are second-to-none, true salt-of-the-earth types, and we were immediately embraced into the Acoustic family. And, suitably refreshed and welcomed, we made our way to the Acoustic stage to take in our first band of the festival, Bedsit Cabaret.

In terms of setting the tone for the festival, Bedsit Cabaret could not have been any more effective. Weaving tales of magical fantasy, the Glasgow-based duo held me captivated with their fairy tale whimsy. The dreamy nature of the lyrics conjured images of Carroll-like psychedelia and their set was thirty minutes of pure bliss.

It’s a tiring business, sitting in the sun, listening to great music, and we felt that it was time to reward ourselves with a beer. The more observant reader may see a pattern forming… After a few hours of catching one or two songs from this band and that (memorable mentions: Simon Atkinson and The Foundryman's Apprentice (all eight of them) and the amazing Mark Wilson (a guitar virtuoso in the true sense of the phrase, and a man so talented that, talentless me wanted to break his fingers!)), and enjoying several more pints in the sun, we headed to the Go North Festival Tour Tent where we came across the first highlight of the weekend: Eugene Twist.

Eugene Twist are a five piece from Glasgow who specialise in a tight, funky rock sound. Their performance was absolutely outstanding, a mod symphony of swirling keyboards, chunky guitars and commanding vocals, all held together by one of the best drummers I’ve ever heard. The drummer in question, whom we later met and had – you guessed it – a drink with, plays like a man possessed by a caffeine-fuelled child. His exuberance is infectious, and, despite the undeniable ability of his band-mates, he quickly becomes the focal point of the set.

Back in the Acoustic tent, we enjoyed sets from Peter Roe and Mark Atkinson before settling down in front of the main stage to watch Admiral Fallow. Two or three songs in, however, we had a sudden realisation – our passes, kindly arranged by the magnificent Nicola, gave us access to the VIP bar. Off we trotted for an armchair and a gin and tonic or two, all the while keeping our eyes peeled for anyone of interest.

I always look forward to Glastonbury, but this year I found the line-up pretty uninspiring. That said, one of the acts I caught was Nile Rodgers and Chic and I was blown away by their set. My excitement grew exponentially when I realised that they were playing Wickerman. As the sun began to dip, they took to the stage and gave the performance that everyone was talking about for the rest of the weekend. For an hour they held the audience captivated with hit after hit after hit;’ Let’s Dance’, ‘We Are Family’, ‘She’s Up All Night ‘and many, many more. They were so good, in fact, that I found myself dancing. I say dancing - imagine a fat Bez and you’ll get the picture. Joking aside, they were absolutely incredible. What made the show even more special was that, two or three days later, I found out that Nile Rodgers had received the all-clear from his oncologist after successfully battling prostate cancer. Chic’s performance will stay with me for a long time – absolutely stunning.

Following Chic would normally be an impossible task, but I have to say that Primal Scream stepped up and gave a vastly superior performance to their lacklustre Glastonbury set. Effortlessly throwing out material from ‘Screamadelica’ and ‘Give In but Don’t Give Out’, they reminded me why they were one of the most significant bands of my teenage years.

The beer, the sun and the music had all taken their toll on me, and I decided that my sleeping bag was very much the place to be. Lying there, listening to the sound of the festival going on around me, I was filled with the satisfaction of a magnificent day, and buoyed by the prospect of – perhaps – an even better day to follow. As Tony will testify, I snored the snores of a man content with his lot and dreamed of adventures to come.


Next Month - Kimmie J Mitchell on the Ingrid Pitt stage; Dexys; the Rezillos and much, much more.











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