Festival review: Skye Live, Portree

It's been a decade since the Isle of Skye Music Festival was forced to close due to financial sustainability issues, yet here was its more modest successor event Skye Live celebrating its third birthday in fine style, making it as long-lived as the event that went before. A degree of tension does exist between the island's traditional and incoming tourist communities, yet Skye '“ particularly the village of Portree, in which Skye Live is set '“ feels modern and bustling in a modest way. The festival itself is held on the Lump, a tiered chunk of woodland which unexpectedly juts out into Portree harbour and regularly hosts the island's Highland games.
Django DjangoDjango Django
Django Django

Skye Live *****

The Lump, Portree

Local DJs Niall Munro and Ali MacIsaac started Skye Live in 2015, and they’ve created a show which strikes an admirable balance between booking DJs and producers with a national and international profile and including a range of trad artists whose natural onstage home is in the Highlands and Islands.

Mylo PIC: Graham JepsonMylo PIC: Graham Jepson
Mylo PIC: Graham Jepson

Saturday night’s bill made for an interesting compare and contrast exercise, with Glasgow’s widely-ranging DJ duo Optimo (Espacio) playing a joint back-to-back set of beguilingly dark and energetic techno with dubstep pioneer Joy Orbison (aka London producer Peter O’Grady) at the “Sub Club Tower”, a small medieval structure at the top of the hill, while at the same time, in a clearing a few steps down the hill, the marquee-like main stage hosted sets from young Scots Gaelic players Daimh, uilleann piper and bandleader Jarlath Henderson and the consistently lively and crowd-pleasing Blazin’ Fiddles. While it’s fair to say that both stages attracted different crowds, neither had a monopoly on the enthusiasm of the audience’s reaction.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The booking of acts, intentional or otherwise, with a connection to the island was also a nice touch. Mylo was one of the most obvious, with the Skye-raised DJ playing a rare but very welcome set of Eighties-tinged house on Friday’s main stage, before Irish DJ Mano Le Tough’s late-night headline appearance.

Closing the two-day festival on Saturday night, meanwhile, Django Django’s first Scottish gig in 18 months claimed a little local interest, with drummer Dave Maclean’s family history here. Playing a set of already-released tracks, the quartet rose expertly to the rare headline slot, before a late-night afterparty at the local community centre closed a unique and essential festival experience.