Just wondering if the colossal amount of doner kebab Just consumed is going to kill me. (Not to self: double dose of pravastatin, atenelol and aspirin tonight)
Seemingly endless bus trip back from Inveraray (why go via Dalmally and Tyndrum? What was wrong with the Rest and Be Thankful as on the way up from Glasgow?) featuring two accidents (not to us) and a diversion via Dumbarton. But at least the driver dropped me off at The Botanic Gardens.
Incidentally, there was a splendid piece by Ian Jack in today's Guardian about Stefan King's plans to rebuild the old Botanic Gardens station. All the westenders protesting against the project should read it forthwith.
Right, so Connect: DF Concerts' 'boutique' festival at Inveraray, aimed at the thinking, drinking, older punter with cash to spend on massages and malts. A staggeringly good musical lineup (if you share my tastes), generally, though with some anomalies: why the dance tent? Few among the target audience care to shove their head inside one of those tarted-up Vauxhall Novas you hear blasting their windscreens out at traffic lights, and then bang their bonces violently against the dashboard - my interpretation of modern dance music; but then, I still find myself referring to 'discos'. And why Inveraray? Culzean was already (I imagine) booked up for Retrofest, but there are other castles nearer Glasgow. Castles less prone to wetness and with fewer big nasty trees.
(Note: my years in Shetland have left me with a dislike of trees when experienced en masse. in the isles, they're considered sinister, and probably a sign of trowie activity)
Still, the publicity was great, the press office helpful, and there were so many great bands playing, I decided to hop aboard the Citylink bus for a day's Connecting. And I was glad I did. I had a really great time, mainly because of the company (thanks, Dave and Lucy!) and the fact that, for the first time in years, I could have a wee festival drink. Also, the imbibing was civilised and excellent: The Loch Fyne Whisky Bar and the Ale Tent both offered magnificent, and cheap, pints and drams, albeit in plastic. And no need for tokens! The food, too was pretty good, though the HIE 'Highland food' tent was on the small side.
But the mud was awful, the weather patchily murky, and the distances having to be covered on foot seemed massive. The weather militated against some of the music, too: Vashti Bunyan was way out of context amid the drizzle, though it was delightful to see her. Emma Pollock, kicking things off at the 'Guitars and Other Machines' stage was terrific, benefitting from a sound mix which was consistently, throughout the day, far, far better than the so-called 'main' Oyster stage. The Hold Steady, on the Oyster stage, were a terrible disappointment - sloppy, hurried, full of mistakes and with a dreadful, murky sound. But they're huge favourite of mine and maybe I was expecting too much.
Back at the 'Guitars' field, Rilo Kiley were spellbindingly, jaw-droppingly magnificent. Jenny Lewis was dressed, it seemed, as a Playboy Bunny, minus ears. They were like a bitter and twisted Fleetwood Mac, circa Rumours, only with real lyrical depth, and it should be said, filth. Just wonderful. And next week's Tom Morton Show album of the week, if you're interested.
Apart from that, Bat for Lashes was an almost exact cross between Kate Bush and Bjork, Teenage Fanclub sounded exactly like Teenage Fanclub, and I had to go on what seemed like a 15-mile hike to catch the bus back to Glasgow. Glad that I wasn't camping (lots of complaints about the conditions, toilets etc) but sorry to miss the Sunday line-up, which is even better than today's.
So, in conclusion: Let's 'fess up, Geoff and DF: this is a carbon copy Belladrum, only nearer Glasgow. You've used your muscle to get one of the best lineups of bands I've ever seen advertised, but the mistakes made all seem to involve thinking you could just scale down T in the Park and add a few bells and whistles. Belladrum, remember, was a tiny event, the vision of one man, Joe Gibbs, in his own (large)garden, and it's grown organically (thanks, largely to Robert Hicks)over several years to its current, very comfortable, very sorted size. Trying to start at the size Belladrum is now was understandable (hey, after all, you're in the business of making money)but I think you have to learn how to do this kind of festival in a quite different way from T. This isn't shrink-to-fit. It's nurture and grow.
Having said that, and despite everything, I had a ball, obviously.
Thanks to Patrick Vickery for the interesting news that Belladrum's rocktastic Italian Garden was very nearly sold, a few years ago, as a site for organic gardening...