Gig review: Insider Festival


THE Insider takes place in 30 rolling, semi-wooded riverside acres by the Spey, where those rolls provide three perfect pockets for the music to nestle in: a garden marquee (alongside the food stalls selling spit-roast local lamb and West Coast scallops); a bijou natural amphitheatre for the main stage; and a wee forest glade where the late-night dance-bands and DJs strutted their stuff as midsummer gloaming merged imperceptibly into dawn.

There was also the most fantastically mouthwatering home-made cake stall I've ever sampled, a main bar purveying a choice array of Highland-sourced brews, premium spirits and stylish cocktails, and the mobile Tractor Bar dispensing cider around the campsite. All this, and a ticketed capacity of just 500, gave new definition to the "boutique" festival concept, while allowing ample room for judicious expansion.

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The word will certainly be out after this year's blissful three-day party, featuring a lavish and quirkily eclectic spread of folk, indie, nu-folk, post-rock, skewed pop, singer-songwriter and Celtic sounds, mostly up-and-coming, with a sprinkling of bigger names.

A wholly unscientific cross-section of highlights of this Scottish festival success story included the French Wives' louche, spiky, melodic braggadocio; the barbed, bittersweet charms of folk-pop five-piece Abagail Grey; the mesmerising duo of singer/electro-harpist Mary MacMaster and percussionist Donald Hay, and the fat, sizzling licks of the Horndog Brass Band.

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