Situated in a ludicrously beautiful area of the Scottish Highlands, Belladrum – or the Tartan Heart festival, as it’s also known – has grown to become one of the country’s top live events, with its reputation far outstripping its size.
Returning for another blast this summer tickets have long since sold out, a testament to the loyalty fans show this wonderfully imaginative Scottish event. Simply put: once fans get the Belladrum buzz they return year after year for more.
With more of that fabled Highland hospitality on show in 2018, we’ve picked out seven must-see sets from this year’s line up.
Seasons come and seasons go but The Charlatans never fail to raise the roof. Devoutly independent, the band have been through various phases over the years, but there’s some essential core that keeps fans enraptured.
Able to lean on a catalogue many of their contemporaries can only gaze at, the band’s live set matches the old with the new, the borrowed with the blues; a guaranteed fun time, The Charlatans will be sure to drop in a few surprises for the Bella crowd.
Primal Scream have always placed huge emphasis on their live show, a blistering feast of riffs, electronics, horns, and whatever else comes to hand. Some kind of country-rave-soul-rock-techno-dub explosion, Bobby Gillespie & Co. push their magpie tendencies to the fore, finding inspiration wherever it grabs them.
From ‘Higher Than The Sun’ to ‘Country Girl’, ‘Kill All Hippies’ to ‘Rocks’, Primal Scream have the sort of set that can tear up any festival on the planet. Belladrum, you have been warned.
There are few artists in Scotland right now capable of dividing the conversation like Gerry Cinnamon. Armed with little more than an acoustic guitar and a few tales from the streets, he’s the love ‘em or loathe ‘em talent Scottish music needs in 2018.
The breakout success story of Glasgow’s TRSNMT, this Garden Stage set is set to draw in an enormous crowd, so best find your spot early.
Mali group Songhoy Blues imbue each performance with an incredible sense of relish. Grasping the sheer joy music can bring, each song – each note, even – seems to sting hard, leaving a lasting impact.
Overhauling a Malian music culture that extends back centuries, their music feels both timeless and utterly riveting, completely cutting edge. An unmissable treat.
Beth Orton is on the trail once more. Recently launching her own imprint, the songwriter leafed through her back pages, unfurling an incredible Tim Buckley cover recorded alongside a then-nascent Chemical Brothers.
Heading out on the road, Beth Orton is able to unfurl songs both old and new, continually searching ahead while remaining resolutely connected to hear roots. Now almost 20 years since breakout album ‘Central Reservation’ she remains a gripping talent, ready to speak her mind and steal your heart in just one song.
Edinburgh’s Broken Records have always had a Big Live Sound. Influenced by artists such as Bruce Springsteen and The Pogues, their approach – folk-laden, bombastic, overtly emotional – has always been meant for open spaces, for big crowds.
Returning to Belladrum with a point to prove, Broken Records have new material to share, and an updated vision to present. A riveting live experience, the band’s urgent, potent performances are something to cherish.
Frightened Rabbit play ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’
The loss of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison devastated Scottish music. An incredible talent and a warm soul, he – and the band as a whole – developed a close association with Belladrum, playing often and returning as punters whenever they could.
The band were due to play ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ in full at this year’s event, a performance that obviously will not now happen. Instead, the festival present a full audio-visual playback of the album, while a collection will be held for the Scottish Association of Mental Health.
With members of Frightened Rabbit already stating that they will be present, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
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Belladrum runs between August 2nd - 4th.
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