Party At The Palace 2015 Review Part 1
So it’s the morning after the weekend before and it’s a typical Scottish summer’s day. Yep, it’s raining! So first things first: hats off to the PATP organisers for picking 2 consecutive days where we didn’t need a snorkel to go outside!
Just like last year, PATP gave some emerging bands the opportunity to play on the big stage. And so the honour of kicking off PATP15 fell to electropop band Apache Darling. They earned the right to play at PATP by beating off stiff competition from over 200 artists in a local battle of the bands competition. This was the second time in just over a month that Stephanie and the guys have opened a major music festival, since they were also first up on the T Break Stage at T in the Park in July. Given that the final of the competition was on the Friday night, so they couldn’t know whether they would be playing until the very last minute, you really have to take your hat off to them! Next of the emerging bands onstage was 100 Fables. If, like me you are a kid of the 80’s and loved post-punk bands such as Blondie and Talking Heads, then you’re going to want to catch 100 Fables live. Fronted by the wonderfully pink-haired Lyndsey Liora, 100 Fables got the crowd bouncing with some cracking original songs which evoked that era. But I have to say that I most enjoyed their brilliant cover of ‘Psycho Killer’.
Although their debut album ‘Fighting The Future’ was released only last year, it seems a little daft to describe Little Eye as an ’emerging’ band, since they’ve been together for a number of years now. Their set on Saturday only served to confirm what we already knew: that these guys are seriously good live. The anthemic nature of songs such as ‘Disco’ and ‘Fighting The Future’ are perfectly suited to the big stage and got the crowd absolutely rocking.
And so we come to Horse. What can I say about Horse McDonald that hasn’t already been said by far more illustrious people than me? Whether you look at it from a songwriting point of view, a vocalist point of view or whatever point of view you care to take, Horse is simply one of the very best artists Scotland has ever produced. And, like her set here last year, and despite having to overcome a recent bout of illness, Horse brought the house down with an utterly fabulous performance. All the crowd favourites were present and correct and this year included a demonstration of true vocal prowess and power. At the end of one of her songs (I can’t honestly remember which one because I was too busy being gobsmacked at the time) Horse held a note for what seemed like an eternity. Twenty? Twenty five seconds? However long it was, I have absolutely no idea how she did it, but it was awesome to witness! And after what seemed like a blink of an eye Horse was closing out her set with signature song ‘Careful’. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long until her next gig since Horse will be performing at the Spiegeltent in Paisley on 16 October.
Next up was founding member of Del Amitri, Justin Currie. When I heard that Justin was in the lineup for this yeas event I was absolutely delighted. For he’s an artist I’ve always wanted to see live, but I’ve never been in the right place at the right time to do so. And brilliantly for me, he was on top form here. Although Justin started his set alone on stage with ‘Always the Last to Know’, he was later joined by guitarist Stuart Nisbet. The only other accompaniment came in the form of an accordion. Although it’d be cool to hear him backed by a full band, there’s something really special about watching Justin Currie perform stripped back acoustic versions of songs like ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’ and ‘Driving with the Brakes On’. Judging by his on-stage banter, Justin was certainly enjoying the event as much as we were and closed out his set with the fabulous ‘Nothing Ever Happens’. Class!
The Feeling are a band that it’s really hard NOT to like. And besides, any man who lives in a converted pub like lead singer Dan Gillespie Sells is – in my book – a top bloke! If Saturday’s performance is any guide, The Feeling are one of those bands that regardless of how commercially successful their records are, they must be seen live to appreciate just how good they really are. Listening to songs such as ‘Fill My Little World’, ‘Love it When You Call’ and ‘Never be Lonely’ on a stereo is one thing. Live, they are spectacularly good! Towards the end of their set the band tore into a medley of songs which they themselves like. So cue bedlam when ‘Day Tripper’, ‘Pinball Wizzard’, ‘Under Pressure’, ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ and ‘Park Life’ were belted out one after another. Absolutely tremendous performance! And thanks to Dan for a cracking photo opportunity at the front of the stage!
And so we come to our Saturday headliners. Travis have become a truly legendary festival band and the PATP organisers deserve a huge pat on the back for securing them for their one and only gig in Scotland this year. Just before they hit the stage, my better half wondered whether Fran Healy would still retain those boyish good looks from the days of yore. Imagine her (and everyone else’s) surprise when Fran bounded on stage sporting an impressively bushy grey beard and wild hair! So while the ‘hair thang’ may remind us all we’re getting older, the good news is we don’t have to grow old quietly.
Travis fairly exploded into opening song ‘Selfish Gene’ and there was an unexpectedly hard edge to much of what they did. This mainly due to Andy Parsons on lead guitar, who was phenomenal throughout. ‘U16 Girls’ mixed Andy’s aggressive guitars with an audience sing along (and much bouncing) during the chorus brilliantly. At one point later in the set Andy jumped offstage and almost climbed right into the audience, before lying down on the monitors at the front of the stage and finally grabbing a mic stand for an interesting bit of slide guitar.
Audience participation is an almost mandatory part of any Travis gig and Saturday’s crowd revelled in all of Travis’ anthems. ‘Driftwood’, ‘Flowers in the Window’, ‘Writing to Reach You’ and ‘Sing’ were just some of the highlights. As the night wore on though, I started to watch the clouds which had gathered overhead during the evening. I had a fairly good idea that their closing song was going to be ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me’. Surely, after a dry day it couldn’t… It just wouldn’t… Would it?
Not quite! While Travis did close out the evening with a fabulous rendition of their signature anthem, there was to be no repeat of Glastonbury 1999. We made it to the end without the heavens opening, although it did rain shortly afterwards! What a thoroughly brilliant day of music!
Day 2 has a lot to live up to. Make sure you read Part 2 of our review…