BELLADRUM Tartan Heart is Scotland’s best-kept festival secret. With an adoring crowd, wealth of entertainment and especially beautiful grounds, this Scottish festival complete with its enchanted forest feel, really does have it all on a budget. Last weekend’s eleventh event was bulging at the seams with spectacular moments making it one to remember.

If Sir Tom Jones in a pair of wellies sharing a dressing room with The Singing Kettle and a bike stunt legend Danny MacAskill didn’t stand out as the most memorable events of the weekend there was always The Detour Sessions at the BellaBar Stage. A new addition to the festival’s programming, the stage saw surprise, raw and up-close performances from the likes of Hector Bizerk, Scott of Frightened Rabbit and Model Aeroplanes over the weekend; but more on that later.

Boasting a new line-up following the departure of Robbie Ward in April 2014, Anderson McGinty Webster Ward and Fisher are temporarily A.M.W.F until they come up with a ‘better name’ and appeared in the Grassroots Stage for the consecutive year. Joined by new addition Tom Barbour, Ward watched and sang along from the crowd which only added to the magic of their set. The tent was unsurprisingly packed and new material including the likes of ‘Love Is But Our Child’ received as warm a reception as classic track ‘Danna’. Anderson stole the show at times, especially during his electric solo walking centre stage and cheered on by the rest of the band, clearly from practice in his new band Scary People. Quite simply, A.M.W.F create magic when they play together and it’s a magic that is always welcomed at Belladrum.

Catfish and the Bottlemen have had a huge year so far, and with their debut album due out in the middle of September they are building up a lot of momentum. They took that energy on to the stage at Belladrum with a storming set in a busy Hothouse tent, with fans singing along to their big hits ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Homesick’. You could tell singer Van McCann really appreciated the support, considering the band were “on the dole just six months ago”.

Very special guests Frightened Rabbit brought the Scottish rain to their Main Stage performance but thankfully they brought the hits too. Belting out the highlights of their ten years as Frabbit, the band’s performance of ‘Fast Blood’, ‘Modern Leaper’ and ‘My Backwards Walk’ were among the highlights.

Saturday kicked-off with special pop-up gigs at the BellaBar Stage including Dundee’s Model Aeroplanes and Glasgow’s finest hip-hop grafter Hector Bizerk who both individually created a bit of a fuss during their performances later on in the day.

Neon Waltz packed out the Go North tent on Saturday, playing a set which included their new single ‘Bare Wood Aisles’ and ‘Sombre Fayre’. Their Slow waltz-like tempo is drenched with psychedelic elements and a distinctive Caithness accent. Be sure to check these guys out at the Tenement Trail in October, they play King Tuts.

Tijuana Bibles were next up on the Go North stage, bringing their ballsy, relentless rock ‘n’ roll performance to the Highlands. They’ve only been playing for a year or so now, but hard work pays and this performance was proof of that. Laced in tight riffs, on-point vocals and just enough stage presence to bring it to the masses. Tijuana Bibles have got it going on. 

The secret special guest slot brought the much-loved The View to the Hothouse stage on Saturday evening. Complete with The Cairn String Quartet, this mellow set was introduced with the orchestra playing ‘Time Wrap’ nicely setting the low-key tone for the rest of the set. Highlights came in the form of track ‘Gem of a Bird’ from their second album Which Bitch? and ‘Give Back the Sun’. The band have never sounded so good, and although lacking in their classic tracks to get the crowd bouncing, their performance was tight and showed growth that induces excitement for the new album.

Band of Skulls also graced the Hothouse Stage on Saturday night, complete with a stage raid and enough distortion to crack some windows. Luckily, the tent held it well and the sound and atmosphere was fitting for a rock ‘n’ roll band that have been on the circuit for some time now. The set included hits like ‘I Know What I Am’ and a healthy offering from their latest album including ‘Hoochie Coochie’. Heavy distortion fed the set and the packed tent loved every second of it.

A true highlight of the weekend came from Hector Bizerk, who although enjoyed a much busier tent at the likes of Wickerman earlier on in the summer, still gave it their all. From the dancing bassist Fraser, to the relentless drumming by Audrey; Hector Bizerk’s rhythm and ridiculously-intelligent rhymes from Louie make for a live show you can enjoy with just as much passion, time and time again.