On Saturday, retro 80s music festival Let’s Rock Scotland kicked off the weekend. There were some surreal sights as 20,0000 people booked out the Midlothian Babysitters’ Association for the day, packed the Prosecco, and went to party.
It was like wandering into a school reunion disco where fancy dress was compulsory – yellowcoats from Hi-De-Hi seemed strangely popular – and it may also have been a secret bid to set a new world record for the most fold away chairs in a field at one time.
We watched the first few acts from what felt like the adjoining field so it was hard to figure out where Nik Heyward ended and Nik Kershaw took over. The huge swarm of wee beasties which flew above our heads clearly didn’t care much for the sounds of either - or maybe they knew it was Black Lace up next and didn’t fancy the sheer banality of their pineapple pushing routines. Can’t blame ‘em.
Black Lace were one of a number of bands to also add some truly risible cover versions. They wrestled Tom Jones and Neil Diamond to the floor while Go West took on Kings Of Leon’s ‘Sex On Fire’. They lost. Heaven 17 stormed straight into ‘We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thang’ to launch a smashing set.
Midge Ure scored a winner with ‘Vienna’ and run through the best of Ultravox and his solo career. He kick-started the run in which saw great sets from true 80s icons, including Marc Almond, ABC – as slick as ever – the ever popular Tony Hadley, who just about got away with taking on Queen’s ‘Someone To Love’, and Billy Ocean, a trouper who gave the fans what they wanted.
The temperature was up the next day for Sunday Sessions Scotland as the sun continued to beat down on Dalkeith Country Park. With this festival only announced earlier this year due to successful ticket sales for sister festival Let’s Rock, which launched last September, around 13,000 music fans were in attendance.
Although generally a more indie rock festival it was the delightful rappers from The Sugarhill Gang, who got the crowd going on the main stage in the mid afternoon heat with their hits, and some interesting covers including Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’.
Welsh rockers Feeder are the perfect festival band thanks to their bouncy rock anthems including ‘Buck Rodgers’ and ‘Just a Day’, going down a storm with the crowd.
Over on the Sessions Stage British Sea Power pulled in an appreciative crowd with earlier hits like ‘Carrion’ and ‘Remember Me’ getting the best reaction.
Back on the main stage Madchester legends Happy Mondays turned the park into party central with Bez on shakers and Shaun Ryder leading monster hits like ‘Kinky Afro’ and ‘Step On’.
The more mundane Peter Doherty went the wrong way about getting the crowd onside by boasting about England’s World Cup win earlier in the day. And his more piano-driven solo tunes failed to impress the crowd. However, fans were appeased by tunes from his bands Babyshambles and The Libertines later in his set.
Over on the Sessions Stage, Lightning Seeds picked up the mood and had the crowd dancing along to feel-good hits including ‘Lucky You’, ‘Marvellous’, Life of Riley’ and ‘Pure’.
Main stage headliners Kaiser Chiefs went down a storm, closing a great inaugural Sunday Sessions Scotland. Likeable frontman Ricky Wilson had the crowd in the palm of his hand by telling them the backstage chat was that Scottish crowds were the best in the world. And the Dalkeith crowd certainly tried to live up to this tag by bouncing and singing along during the Leeds’ rockers greatest hits set which included perfect festival tunes such as ‘Ruby’ and ‘I predict a Riot’, ‘Hole in my Soul’ and ‘Never Miss a Beat’.
An interesting cover of the Who’s Pinball Wizard also went down well with crowd. While the band finished the night with a mass audience sing-a-long for ‘Oh My God’, sending the crowd home happy and rounding off a cracking weekend of live music in Dalkeith Country Park.