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Last Updated: Monday, 20 August 2007, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Fans beat the mud to see heroes
Raymond Buchanan
BBC Scotland

Muddy scenes at music festival

Runrig's Beat the Drum Festival will be remembered not so much for the music but the weather.

Forecasters predicted a blanket of rain would smother most of Scotland on Saturday and Drumnadrochit took its share of the punishment.

The doors opened at 1400 BST and for the next nine hours it drizzled on the 17,000 people who came along to listen to the show.

With the main act not due on stage until after 2000 BST the sodden crowd were entertained by a host of Scotland's rising and established performers.

One of the earliest on stage were the Vatersay Boys.

If you haven't heard of them, they play what the marketing people call traditional music with passion.

Essentially this is a blend of old fashioned ceilidh tunes and newly composed material which focuses on the fun side to the Hebridean character.

They went down well with the crowd - even managing to get them to sing along with their signature tune Oidhche mhath, ma tha! (Good night, then) in the middle of the afternoon.

We thought it would be a good gig, its good to play the Highlands
Riley Briggs
Lead singer with Aberfeldy

Next should have been the award-winning Gaelic vocalist Julie Fowlis but traffic held up some of her band and so a quick re-gig of the line up saw Edinburgh band Aberfeldy take the stage.

The group have toured with the likes of Scissor Sisters and Blondie as well as gaining critical acclaim for their two albums.

They are currently working on their third, as yet, unnamed album.

Lead singer Riley Briggs said they were delighted to take part in this Runrig outdoor special.

He said: "We thought it would be a good gig, its good to play the Highlands.

"Especially to a crowd the size of this, there are supposed to have been seventeen thousand tickets sold. It was an honour to be asked."

Riley also revealed the band are struggling to finish their latest record.

Complaints from their Edinburgh neighbours have hampered preparations for the new album.

Warm reception

But they do hope to have it completed in time for the South by South West festival in Texas in March of 2008.

By the time Aberfeldy had finished their set, Julie Fowlis and her band had all arrived.

The BBC Radio 2's Folk Singer of the Year award got a warm reception.

So warm, she asked how many of her cousins were in the crowd? By the enthusiastic response she received, plenty.

Fowlis was followed by the Canadian group, the Great Big Sea.

Again, they have a traditional music core from their Newfoundland origins but with a look that suggests they share the same stylists as the Foo Fighters.

For those who had never heard them before it quickly became clear why they have already picked up a Juno award - the Canadian version of a Brit.

Next were the Scottish rock band Wolfstone.

Foo Fighters
The Foo Fighters looked to have influenced the Great Big Sea

Hailing from just over the hills from Drumnadrochit - this was a welcome local gig for a group that spends much of its time in the United States.

They are veterans of Runrig outdoor specials having supported them before when they played Loch Lomond.

A brief set from the Red Hot Chilli Pipers warmed the drenched crowd up for the main attraction.

But before Runrig emerged an announcement went out asking people to please drop their umbrellas so that the set could be recorded for a DVD.

This seemed a little cruel, but then having spent so many hours getting soaked and muddy another couple of hours didn't do much more harm.

When Runrig did begin, the whole place lit up and the thousands who had flocked to the north of Loch Ness responded.

Borrowed muscle

A mixture of old and newer tracks kept most people jumping. The rest probably had their feet stuck in the mud.

When the night ended, many found a mixture of the rain and the grass car park left them stranded.

But a tractor was on hand to help out some of the worst affected. For the rest, the old fashioned combination of borrowed muscle and gentle acceleration saved them from a night in a field.

All in all a good gig. Runrig are now in their fourth decade as a band. Their longevity is partly due to the commitment of their fans.

The fact so many stuck it out till the end demonstrates just how committed they are.


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