Review: Aberfeldy Festival, 2013

rick redbeard pic

This review originally appeared in The Herald Newspaper (Scotland) on November 3, 2013.

Aberfeldy Festival
Various venues, Aberfeldy
November 1
(Four stars)

You might, in retrospect, question your choices. You might ask yourself why you decided to loiter in torrential rain, when you could have been in a cosy distillery admiring cult-pop renaissance man Aidan Moffat, or snug in the newly-refurbished Birks cinema, with films and live poetry. But there is something magical about watching live music in an old town square of an afternoon, and so it was that some of us weathered the storm for lovely, if short, sets from Star Wheel Press, Rick Redbeard and Withered Hand, at the fourth Aberfeldy Festival.

Rain stopped play for Lomond Creosote’s planned acoustic gig in the square, but their headline slot at the Town Hall that night provided ample compensation, as FOUND’s synth-toting (tangerine) dreamboats Ziggy “Lomond” Campbell and River of Slime joined forces with King Creosote and his merry men. Their excellent set included Future Wives and The Lengths, lifted from Experimental Batch #26, an ace collaborative LP conceived by festival sponsors Dewar’s.

The evening also saw electric performances from Meursault, whose new material sounded thrilling – it was equal parts hardcore and vintage Queen – and Withered Hand, whose outstanding big-band line-up spanned tubas, accordions and indie-pop legend Pam Berry on backing vocals. Drawing largely from Withered Hand’s forthcoming album, highlights included alt-pop triumph Horseshoe, indie anthem Black Tambourine and swoon-rock aria California.

Phantom Band frontman Rick Redbeard’s appearance was typically gorgeous, and the climax of his Town Hall set was exquisite alt-folk psalm Any Way I Can, but the baritone bard captured the festival’s spirit and charm in the afternoon, in the downpour. “Woods on a mountainside, far from the city, and life unburdened,” he sang, and said it all.

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