Review: Wickerman Festival, near Kirkcudbright

Elvis and Elvis catch some rays while enjoying an ice cream as the acts warmed up for the Wickerman Festival. Picture: Brian Sweeney
Elvis and Elvis catch some rays while enjoying an ice cream as the acts warmed up for the Wickerman Festival. Picture: Brian Sweeney
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BY MID-EVENING last night, the beautiful summer weather had largely held for this latest edition of the Wickerman festival, which takes full advantage of its location close to the spiritual and location-shooting home of the cult Edward Woodward film of the same name.

East Kirkcarswell Farm, near Kirkcudbright


While revelers soaked up a pleasant atmosphere on a compact site, which sloped down to a stage flanked by two inflatable torches, the now-traditional Wickerman figure towered over them in a field nearby, awaiting being set light at the festival’s end last night.

Described on the Friday by Fife singer KT Tunstall as “amazing”, an admission even she didn’t appear to expect to make following her rain-soaked and dreich last appearance here five years ago, the festival enjoyed a communal atmosphere created by the lack of trouble, the many children roaming the site having fun and an interesting and eclectic bill of artists topped by some certain crowd-pleasers.

Yesterday’s selection allowed a bunch of relative unknowns some welcome main stage time, while the crowd milled about and collected their thoughts following a late Friday night spent dancing to Nile Rodgers’ revived Chic and the ever-hellraising Primal Scream. Among them were the North Tyneside Steelband (Wickerman draws a large number of visitors from the north of England), Scots singer-songwriter Roddy Hart and English folk outfit Bellowhead. Elsewhere, the Scooter Tent hosted punk and reggae old-timers, the goNorth stage gathered a fine selection of young Scottish bands and a variety of small late-night dance tents only started to gear up after dinner.

The first truly big name of the day was Kevin Rowland’s recently-revived and critically feted Dexys (nee Midnight Runners), a band whose recent, more theatrical concert hall shows in support of their last album One Day I’m Going to Soar may or may not have transferred successfully to an outdoor environment. However, with Rowland doing his best Cab Calloway impression with thin-trimmed facial hair, fedora and tailored zoot suit, the hour was an unqualified triumph – probably in part due to a heavier reliance on classics such as Geno and I Love You (Listen to This) than their own shows might enjoy. Yet Rowland’s undying way with a heart-stirring lyric made new tracks like Now and the infectious Incapable of Love appropriate material for the occasion. When Come On Eileen arrived, though, it set a yardstick of euphoria for the entire festival, including the forthcoming The Enemy and Amy Macdonald, to beat.