Party at The Palace 2016 Review Part 1
August has always been a month when fans of outdoor live music events have been spoiled for choice, and Scotland’s central belt is particularly spoiled during this time. Over in the east you have the Edinburgh International Festival, where you can take your pick of major concerts held on the castle esplanade, while over in the west The Glasgow Summer Sessions always pull in huge crowds to their shows in Bellahuston Park. Even my home town of Falkirk has played host to high profile outdoor concerts over the last few years. So there is never a shortage of music events on whose tickets you can spend your hard-earned cash.
With that backdrop in mind then, you really have to take your hat off to the organisers of Party at The Palace, who created an annual two day music festival held in the grounds of Linlithgow Palace which they hoped would stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of them. Now in it’s third year, PATP has always featured really impressive lineups and stellar headliners, but you always got the feeling that there were just too many other major music events happening at the same time, preventing the event from achieving the commercial success it deserved. Not so in 2016 because after taking the ballsy decision to move the event to a new, larger site further around Linlithgow Loch, greatly increasing the audience capacity, adding a second stage and assembling the biggest, most impressive lineup to date, PATP came of age in spectacular style.
Day one began, as is customary at PATP, with a band who earned the right to open the festival by winning a local Battle of the Bands competition. This year the honour fell to Bo’ness rockers Brother Apollo who blew through a set of impressive original songs and got the weekend off to an absolute flier on the Main Stage. After a quick jog over to the new Star and Garter Stage, we caught the end of singer songwriter Saskia Eng’s set. At only 14 years old Saskia must be the youngest artist ever to feature at PATP, and what can I say, the kid’s got huge potential and has a hell of a voice for someone so young.
Back on the Main Stage Lucia Fontaine and her band made a welcome PATP return before one of the best live bands to emerge in Scotland in recent times took to the stage. If you’ve never seen Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 it’s pretty difficult to know where to start to describe them because there really isn’t anyone out there you can compare them with. Ultimately though, their live shows are about having a good time through music, dancing and crowd participation. Songs like Gay Icon, Ginger Girl and Cross the Road had the PATP audience singing, dancing and generally having an absolute blast. Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 may not (yet!) be a household name, but if the object of going to a concert is to have a good time and to leave with a smile on your face, then there are few who can touch them.
GUN were next up and I have to admit that they were one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing over the weekend. Not least because since decibelROGUE covered their last show at The Barrowlands, original guitarist Alex Dickson has returned to the band, meaning this would be our first chance to see this particular lineup play together. And they were typically barnstorming. All the big hitters such as Word Up and Steal Your Fire were present and correct, with an absolutely thunderous version of the Beastie Boy’s (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!) rounding things off. GUN’s live performances have never been anything less than awesome and this one was probably the best I’ve seen since the band reformed 4 years ago.
How often do you come across a tribute band who’s career has been longer than the band who they are paying homage to? I can think of only one, and they were next to take to PATP’s Main Stage. The Bootleg Beatles have been performing their awesome tribute shows since way back in 1980. Yep, that’s a career that so far has outlasted the decade that The Beatles were together by 26 years. It goes without saying that from a music perspective, their performance was awesome. How could it NOT be? From opening song She Loves You to the sing along finale of Hey Jude the band knocked it out the park. But what impressed most was their sheer attention to detail. Whether it be the equipment the band were using, the brilliantly accurate harmonies, the costume changes to reflect the period of the music they were performing at the time, or the onstage banter between songs. Nothing was overlooked in the quest to give the PATP audience the ultimate authentic Beatles performance – and it was utterly brilliant.
When I looked through the lineup for this year’s event for the first time, one of the things that struck me was the number of bands who would have massive, punch the air, jump up and down-type anthems to perform. The Fratellis are one such band and by the time they took to the stage, the PATP arena was packed to it’s 8,400 capacity. Jon, Barry and Mince had the PATP audience absolutely rocking with songs such as We Need Medicine, but the atmosphere went to a completely different level when they launched into Chelsea Dagger. Whether it be on the football terrace or an arena concert, this song is everything an anthem should be and it was brilliant to be right in the middle of the crowd as it was performed. If you don’t have the urge to join in and sing along to Chelsea Dagger, then you should really check your pulse… The band rounded off a brilliant set with a tremendous version of Runaround Sue after which everyone had just about time to catch their breath in time for the headliners.
The Proclaimers‘ music has become so engrained in the popular culture of this country that it’s hard to imagine that there is anyone alive in these isles today who hasn’t heard at least one of their songs. Their PATP set was a brilliant journey through the best of their extensive catalogue, stopping off at all the old favourites along the way. And we only had to wait until their second song for the first of their signature hits to have the PATP audience punching the air and singing along at the top of their voices. All it took was that distinctive intro to Letter from America…
Craig and Charlie were simply immense. It seems kinda stupid to say it, but one of the reasons I’ve always liked them is because they sing in their ‘own voices’ and never adopted some kind of quasi-american accent to make them sound more, oh what’s the word, commercial? And that simple thing helps to bring an honesty and integrity to their songs that few other songwriters can match.
I don’t know if it’s because Craig and Charlie don’t run around the stage during their shows that I found myself concentrating a lot more on what they were actually singing than I might normally. They just seemed to be able to draw you in and hold your attention through song after song of brilliantly written and wonderfully performed material.
No prizes for guessing what my highlights of the evening were. As good as the rest of their set was I still can’t see past the awesome Letter from America, the brilliant Sunshine on Leith and the biblically barnstorming I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), but you’d probably guess that was always gonna be the case! This was a fabulous performance by a couple of guys who surely – and I know it’s probably not ‘cool’ to say it – belong in the ‘National Treasure’ category. To hell with being cool though, The Proclaimers kicked a bloody great hole in the sky, and decibelROGUE loves them!
So there you have it from day one of Party at The Palace 2016. Stay tuned for our review of day 2!
The Proclaimers Gallery
The Fratellis Gallery
The Bootleg Beatles Gallery
Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 Gallery
Lucia Fontaine Gallery
Brother Apollo Gallery
Star and Garter Stage Gallery