Onwards to Saturday and a full days worth of action this time. Happily not rough, got some kind of sleep and the sun was out with the odd cloud now and again. Pretty perfect really. Bacon roll, couple off coffee’s and it’s off to the arena. (Straight to the music this time but you can read about Friday and some over view stuff here)
A third Dinosaur
I have to say I was slightly disappointed when I walked in to the tent and instead of actual Miniature Dinosaurs it was another band. I thought Loopallu had put something REALLY original on for us. Luckily the disappointment didn’t last very long as they’re a bloody good band. Guitar, drums and synth/keyboard action. A bit new wave, a bit retro, perfect for shaking off any remaining cobwebs that may have been knocking about. I find the lead singers voice to be a bit like your man from the B52s OR if you happen to know their stuff they could pair well with Roads to Damascus. And as you’d expect with a band with a name like theirs, good craic. Can’t mention how they started off as “shhh, it’s a secret” but it resulted in some nice patter. Even though it was festival early at half noon I had heard buzz about the camp site and a decent sized crowd showed up. They could well be glad of that one day as given the right chances these guys could be Full Sized Dinosaurs. I know I’ll be in the audience again next chance I get. Also, photographer approved.
The same can be said for the next band too, Naked Strangers, though for slightly different reasons. They didn’t quite hook me and I haven’t really got a reason why. Musically they were pretty rocking, some epic solos and well constructed tunes. They can be a bit proggy and have an interesting mix of sounds about them. The drummer was super enthusiastic to get the crowd going, though the rest were a bit more mellow. Possibly down to playing the fringe the night before as Transgender Ska (them in drag, it’s an anagram, big points for that in my book and I’m sorry I missed it). Sometimes music is a mood thing and I figure it’s just that my mind wasn’t in the right place when they were on. Little bit of roughness and need of lunch on my part maybe. It was a damned fine set though and they’re a solid band that you should check out if you have the chance. And that I hope to check out again when I’m better fed and rested.
The band is actually to either side of this
Next up for me were Public Service Broadcasting. Curiosity, that was the main vibe before they came on. I spoke with a few people and got them along too after saying what their craic was. I didn’t expect to want to stay for the whole set after checking them out online. The music was great and all, but not entirely my wheel house and I wasn’t sure if it would be something I’d want to watch for 45 minutes. Boy was I wrong. Saturday highlight right here, they’re bloody amazing. Two guys, one on a drum set and the other (who may have been Stephen Merchant) pushing the buttons and playing guitar and banjo. If you haven’t heard them, and there is a fair chance you haven’t, the act is a mix of the aforementioned instruments and electronic music stuff with snippets of public service films. In a live show there’s also a cleverly edited film playing at the back which the music basically acts as a sound track too. Excellent drummer, excellent guitar and banjo and very cleverly constructed tracks had me hooked the whole way through. Not sure if or when we’ll see them up here again, they’re from Laaaaaaaaahndun, but if we do I’ll be first in line. AND they also managed to have good banter. No mics but edited sound bites to say thank you and that they were glad to be playing at Loopallu (that must have taken some editing). As I write this bits and bobs of the show pop in to my head and I’m a sold fan for sure. As were a lot of the crowd as they all seemed to love it.
Kudos to the booker for that one.
The next act are a bit harder to write about for me. Not because The Staves were bad, the exact opposite. I just might find myself stuck in a lovely loop. To be shallow, they look lovely. The banter was that slightly awkward folk singer banter that’s a bit shy and is adorable. You can tell they’re classy as they were drinking red wine rather than the ever present tins of Tennents. At one point….left hand Stave up there compared the tent to a Cathedral acoustically, and (here comes a lazy cheesy line) it’s fitting as a choir of angels were on stage. Gorgeous singing voices singing in great harmonies, some lovely (SEE?!) twiddly guitar and Uke action. My kinda thing basically. AND, middle Stave, if you guys come back up here and play The Greenhouse at some point I’ll get you a unicat horn. They have an LP coming out soonish btw and guess what? I think it’ll probably be lovely.
Davy (not pictured, Hosebeast)
Enough of that, and I’m not going to be calling these boys lovely. The other hardest working band in Ullapool, entertaining the beer tent between slots were Davy and The Hosebeast (that’s just Davy’s page btw). That’s punk, ska and new wave covers on acoustic guitar and drums. I love a bit of that and so do the crowd so it was some nice ear noise in between acts. And they got a mini encore at the end of the night. Probably would have tried to keep them going for longer (turns out I’m glad they didn’t but I’ll get to that in 3 acts time) and the crowd were having a good jump around to their stuff. Nice work guys.
Rachel and two of the girls, not pictured Jennifer on keys
Back to the main stage though for someone I’ve mentioned once or twice on this page, Rachel Sermanni. Along with the girls, though alas one was missing. Louise on the fiddle. I managed to grab the chance later to ask Siobhan where she was and….she had another gig in Glasgow that night. Which is fair enough. Was a bit of a shame as, being really familiar with the songs, I noticed the missing fiddle. Was still a great, and lovely to get that out of the way, set though. In addition to tracks off the Under Mountains album there was also a festival only song called “The Burger Van Song”. It’s a pretty jumpy wee number and was good craic, more of these please Rachel! I also realised that Under Mountains is part of the lyrics of The Fog, think I would have spotted that before now as it’s my favourite track, which explains the album title. The violin build towards the end is a highlight so that missing fiddle could have been an issue but it was admirably covered by Rachel on the guitar. While Davy and the Hosebeast may have been the hardest working band in town they might have to fight for the title as Rachel flew up from London, played HMV in Inverness, played this 50 minute set then her and the girls played the fringe. That’s a pretty hectic day right there!
Next to grace the main stage was the very talented Jake Bugg. He clearly enjoys his job as there were big grins at times. Jake has a great retro sound, generally mellow but sometimes very rocky and a voice kind of like the lead singer of Cast. For part of the set it was just Jake with an acoustic guitar which he plays extremely well. The banter level was low but having heard him on the radio I expected that, he’s a bit of a quiet lad. He did make a bit of an effort though but the music did most of the talking. Unfortunately as I mentioned yesterday I have dodgy knees and they were KILLING ME at this point so I had to leave a bit early for a sit down and a crepe. What I overheard from outside sounded like some thumping good stuff though and the crowd certainly enjoyed his set.
And finally, Scouting For Girls. I didn’t expect to think much of these guys to be honest, thought I’d check out some of the set then leave it. Seemed a bit of an odd choice. They were the third surprise for me of the festival though. There was a wee bit of dodgy singing, and yes they do have a similar melody to a lot of their tunes, but they are a pop rock band so that’s not a surprise. Tell you this though, they know how to work a bloody crowd. The leading man has HUGE amounts of energy, gets people singing and clapping along and they all LOVE what they are doing. Musically they’re pretty simple pop stuff for the most part but at times there were some truly impressive musical moments. They fired in to a number of the hit singles right from the get go and threw in a couple of covers. Did a damned fine job of Live and Let Die and their version of Rhianna’s Love in a Hopeless place was a big improvement on the original, not that that’s too hard to do. Where you’d expect to be flagging a bit after 2 days of festival drinking these guys brought TONS of energy, got everyone including me going and then….had a fake set end. I know cause I looked at the clock. Plus they hadn’t done She’s So Lovely yet. So after the fake out, new single (the new stuff is a bit different to be fair on them) and then the big one. I’d say everyone went mental but there’d been a lot of energy before that so it wasn’t a total stand out. At the end of the set I had sore hands from clapping and a sore throat from singing. I think I may be a solid convert to their side, though I need to give the new album a listen before I can say that. All told it was a great way to end a very fun festival and turned out to be an inspired choice.
Wait did I say end? There’s still a fringe to go yet. I had myself a pretty big sit down first though.
Bet his Granny didn’t knit that
First stop for me was the Ferry Boat Inn to catch some of Rachel and the Ladies. I did plan to get more fringe in this time but wanted to find out the missing fiddler craic that I mentioned earlier. HEAVING in there, shallow breathing room only. Stuck around for a beers worth of music, plus a cigarette outside. They were playing ceilidh tunes for the most part and some original RS ones with a bit of a twist. A very talented bunch of musicians and if I hadn’t wanted to get some fringe in I could happily have listened all night.
The Quatro Amigos! Friends of the photographers from last year, friends of mine as well now. Good example of the kind of nutters you can run in to!
But instead I took a wander up the hill to the Argyll Hotel for some of The Rogues. People had been comparing them to the Pogues to me but the leader singer has teeth and I could work out what he was saying. Covers of traditionalish Irish tunes, or neo traditional like Whisky in the Jar, loads of energy and good craic. I actually intended to fire off to the next pub but ended up just going to the cash machine and heading back (the above guys were in there too which was a factor). They finished with Shipping off to Boston by The Dropkick Murphy’s but unfortunately couldn’t be talked in to keeping going. Plus they don’t know Kiss Me, I’m Shit Faced. You promised to learn it and I’ll hold you to that.
And THAT was finally a great end to a great festival. This being my second Loopallu I knew it was going to be a good one and it didn’t disappoint at all. Some great new music discoveries, lots of friendly punters without any annoying ones and a lovely setting. The weather even more or less co-operated, though late September in Scotland is going to be a bit on the chilly side. It certainly won’t be my last Loopallu. If you missed out this year then remember one very important thing. It sells out. I think the selling out is happening earlier each year as well. So don’t drag your feet when you see tickets are on sale, grab one as soon as you can. If you don’t you’re missing out on a LOT of good banter and tunes. See you there next year, aye?