I dunno maybe because it’s near Halloween or maybe because I chanced upon my original post of this on my Stranglers forums today but here’s my original review from 2008 of the Wickerman Festival. Note I gave up the ciggies and meat eating some years go. Anyway over to me 13 years ago…..
So just got back from the Wickerman and after approximately 5 hours kip in 2 days plus 40 cigs, 17 beers, too much sun, too much rain, too much walking through clouds! it’s safe to say that I’m cream crackered with tinitus and a mother of all headaches. However, that said I’m very happy after being to one of the best festivals ever.
It all starts on Friday at 1pm – we shoot up the M62,M60,M6,A74. Google maps tells me the journey time will take 4 hours. I work out that The Fall are on at 5ish so if I do a ton all the way..dash in there and get the tent up and be supping Tennants Super Strength before you can say “Ladies and gentleman we are The Fall-ah”. Unfortunately, I realise things aren’t going quite to plan when half way up the M6 we’re faced with roadworks after roadworks followed by a delightful combination of tractors and caravans.
After travelling around endless country bends thinking the festival will be round this corner we eventually see a hill of tents and we’re there. Walking onto the site tent, rucksacks etc in hands I hear Mark E Smith’s bird shouting “I’ve been duped” – There’s no point trying to head to the stage – I have to sucumb to realising that I’ve missed the ruddy Fall.
I’m not a happy bunny at this point so the tent goes up in record time and I’m practically knocking the tent pegs in with my bare fists.
The Wickerman site is probably the most organised festival site I’ve ever seen. The litter pickers are out on a constant rotation so everything looks fairly decent. There’s a great selection of burger vans (most of them don’t seem too grubby). My fave was the “Well Hung” burger van selling the Angus burgers – I recommend them if you have to choose between festival eateries.
Having missed the Fall I’m wondering what to do. Normally, a bit of Ska or dub kinda sees me right when there’s nothing else on. Unfortunately, there seems to be little on at the moment Dodgy make an appearance after The Fall (yes AFTER !?!). To make matters worse the weather starts to look grim and it soon begins to fuck it down. We head for the tents.
One of the tents has been taken over by Bez and Shaun Ryder. There’s FAC51 Hacienda posters all over the place whilst Bez is at the front of stage hanging over the crowd repeatedly shouting “Scot-land” whenever he feels the song playing is kicking in (every 30 seconds in Bez’s case). It is now 20:00 on Friday.
Across to the main stage and we have Alabama 3. They had a big turnout and they got everyone vibed up. They remind me of B.A.D playing country and western – It’s an eclectic mix.
I’ve got a program by this point and I notice Sham 69 are playing in the Capitol tent at 22:30. As I’m sure you’re aware the guitarist is the only original member of Sham these days. But in spite of that they put on a great show to a packed tent – Angels With Dirty Faces, Poor Cow (lead singer dedicates to his mother!), If The Kids – It’s a real “hits” set and it goes down a storm. Meanwhile Gary Numan is on the main stage. Exit stage left the Numanoid and we’re treated to the “Red Hot Chilli Pipers”. I’m expecting a Scottish pipe band to cover the Red Hot Chilli Peppers songs but no this is not the case. At around 01:00 these chaps appear onstage with bag pipes, drums and all sorts. It’s a rousing performance and they’re pretty fucking good.
Back across to the Hacienda tent and by this time its around 01:30 – Bez is still onstage shouting “Scot-land”
Also, Shaun Ryder is spinning the discs. We hang around here for a bit and then call it a night.
Bit of a non-event today IMO. Sure we have Mr Cornwell appearing in the afternoon but not a great deal else. Up and in the arena at 10am and we have 7 hours to kill before Hugh puts in his appearance.
The weather is good today and we find a nice spot near the main stage and (pretty much) just chill and drink. On the main stage there was a constant stream of bands playing acoustic guitars with pretty standard MOR stuff. Then it’s time for Hugh. We get down the front and for the first time today we start seeing people heading for the barrier at the front of the stage. I start to see the odd Stranglers T-Shirt and some familiar faces. Tension is building up and throughout the day the hills around the main stage have been covered by people sitting around with beers on the go. There’s definitely a few thousand casual observers easily 3000-5000 and there’s a good showing down the front (around 300 in the “moshpit” raring for Hugh to appear). And appear he does, he kinda just stumbles onto the stage with Caz and Chris closely behind him. The announcer needs to announce them before they appear but Hugh doesn’t care – he wants to sort his guitar out. So he spends 5 mins or so sorting things out. And then he hands back to the announcer who announces Hugh and co (already on stage).
Anyway it’s Saturday, it’s 5pm and the opener is Grip followed by Peaches (the crowd are interested now and we seem to have a few more people up the front) – then Hot Cat, Trowbridge, Delightful Nightmare, Rain On The River etc. Hugh’s added a few more guitar wig outs on Peaches and it works really well IMO. What follows is a near perfect performance (he has the odd bother with one of his pedals – which at one point he hits before a solo and the entire guitar cuts – quickly rectified though). The festival crowd are treated to Sewer (different wig out on this one – kinda more laid back, more experimental). Bear Cage (it gets longer all the time – big gap to let the bass do the talking – Caz drives the main riff home) . Straighten Out, Heroes and Hugh calls it a day but everyone is screaming for him to come back onstage. He does and we get Walk On By!!. The sun is out, we’ve got this great Hugh performance and one of the largest crowds he’s had for a long time.
It’s all over – the mosh pit breaks up and heads for the beer tent. There’s some very happy faces about (mine included). This makes the entire weekend for me.
The rest of the day is a complete Ska-fest. At 8pm in the Capitol tent we have “Aka Ska” a very competent Ska covers band complete with brass section that treat us to a trip through memory lane. We have countless Specials tunes, a couple of Madness songs, and bizarrely Geno and Reward (not that I’m complaining) – We’re all seriously skanking- I take my pork pie hat off to them – very good guys.
There’s only one act I’m interested in now and that’s Neville Staple just before the Wickerman gets set alight. He appears on stage a bit late and we’re treated to an entire walk through the Specials back catalogue – He does it very well indeed and like he said he’s in good shape for a 53 year old. After an amazing “Ghost Town” we wander out of the tent to see the Wickerman being set ablaze – After a bit of extra encouragement in the drizzle and gloom he goes off in a serious blaze of fireworks and cinder. It’s all over.