It's one of the sunniest weekends of the year, and we're at one of the most beautiful places in the world: Loch Ness. At Golden Voice Arena, Bombay Bicycle Club turn in an outstanding set to a young crowd worshipful of their sweet, well-crafted songs. There’s a lot of charm to BBC and, as they swing from the thwarted-teen emotion of 'Cancel On Me' to the twinkly, folk-infused 'Ivy & Gold' , the crowd, holding mobiles and arms aloft, senses it's in the presence of something special.
With a devastating, souped-up bass that shudders through the glens of the stunning backdrop, Skream and Benga prime the crowd for Fatboy Slim. He plays the ‘Get Lucky’ card with a slick Daft Punk remix, but despite the admirable enthusiasm he throws at it, it all sounds a little bit dated.
With a rallying cry of “Where’s all the f*cking lunatics at?” Saturday headliner Example runs on like an unpleasant dream – launching into 'Kickstarts', he's lapped-up by the sunburnt masses. He pushes through an energetic, if staid, set – one buoyed by chart hits like ‘Stay Awake’. After sundown, Carl Craig brings a pulsating, euphoric techno set to a practically full-house in the Sub Club’s sound tent.
Fatherson comprise an emotive start to Sunday afternoon. “Know me by my colour,” they ask, the gorgeous stains of Ross Leighton’s voice unaccompanied but for the sound of his own guitar. It’s a gutsy decision in a festival largely powered by bass-heavy soundsystems, but for the most part it pays off. The relative intimacy of this main stage show – although it relies heavily on the quiet-loud dynamic – speaks of a growing confidence. This fledgling sound has a deceptive amount of meat on its bones.
Cue Alabama 3. With a voice like the more satanic tones of Nick Cave, singer Larry Love serenades the crowd with some exemplary patter regarding the sunshine: “Good weather – but not if you’re here to sell f*cking wellies!” These weird flowers flourish in these climes – throwing up a disjointed mix of spoken-word, dance and blues growlers. An oddly moving dedication of 'Last Train To Mashville' to an old friend mourns that “we don’t dance to techno anymore”. They could come over as parodic, but it’s persuasive. They touch, of course, on the song that brought them their infamy – and Tony Soprano would be proud.
Forget the dance tent – John McClure appears to be on the strongest drugs at this festival: the power of his own ego. Reverend And The Makers give a tight, brash and mystifyingly well-attended performance. The Futureheads make an unexpected, and mildly received, showing on the mainstage whilst Lianne La Havas, resplendent in tartan, guitar-picks and coos her way through a tea-time slot.
As the sun begins to set and wash golden light over the loch, it’s up to the swooning, gorgeous voice of Traceyanne Campbell and Camera Obscura to lead us out. We know that Plan B headlined – but let us remember it this way, okay?
Words: Marianne Gallagher
Photos: Paul Campbell
Get the best of Clash on your iPhone - download the app here