Jocktoberfest 2019 – Saturday

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hello and welcome to another instalment of ‘why the fuck am I reading this pish?!’ with your loyal and just-a-bit-too-salty host, Chips & Gravy! You might also ask yourself what shite I’m spouting this week, and that would be a fair question. This short ‘n’ spicy number is a spattering of my stream of questionable consciousness through this year’s Jocktoberfest! Exciting stuff, boys.

This was a strange year for myself; I arrived late due to having a steady job (I know, I don’t get it either) and one of our other Nettlers was otherwise incapacitated due to temporary disablement and heavy duty painkillers. Nevertheless, we persisted.

Due to my holding down of employment I missed all of Friday’s shenanigans, which is brand new ground for me. Generally speaking – Friday is when I drink all my weekend supply alcohol (and oftentimes other people’s supplies too, I never suggested I was a good person) and spend three hours trying to look myself in the eye the next morning. WELL, NOT THIS TIME! This time I got stuck into Saturday, and burgers.

Upon arrival, I realised I needed emergency burgers. The food at this year’s Jocktoberfest was incredible as always, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m a round wee soul, and I like my meals. Equipped with fourteen dinners in hand, I wandered to the Hayloft Stage to be greeted by Coca Tenorio. I did not expect ethereal woman belting out strange Spanish folk beats, but I had no problem with it.

The first act I saw that really stuck out to me was Colin Cannon on the Hayloft Stage. He played some lovely, melodic tunes with some very skilled finger picking of his acoustic guitar. Colin has a warm, comforting voice, the kind you’d want to take home to sing to your granny. A bit like Paolo Nutini – but with slightly less whisky. Unfortunately I was unable to get any photos of Colin performing, but that’s because there was a bloody great crowd that I couldn’t get past. I’m at average nipple height, which is too small for normal-heighted people to see, but too tall to slip between their legs. Probably for the best, that last bit. My only issue with his set was that once The Dihydro came on the Barn Stage it became impossible to hear Colin. Clearly a scheduling oversight, but a shame. Especially because I’m not a Dihydro fan, but that’s another pish article for another pish day.

Being not-a-Dihydro fan, I stayed in the Hayloft for a while waiting for Sophie Bonadea, who was also waiting for the aforementioned to finish so people could hear her set. Sophie was very personable – funny, relaxed and cracking jokes about being pregnant and playing her set as a duet with the other half in-utero. Her sound was a laid back Americana style, with a gorgeous voice and lovely acoustic guitar strumming. She really suited the Americana vibe, and I absolutely loved her set (and her skirt, feel free to donate me it). I did notice at this point that the mixing desk is an iPad which was WEIRD. I also noticed at this point that I’m fucking ancient, and of course technology such as this exists in 2019. Moving swiftly on to the Barn Stage

It appeared it was time to observe Be like Pablo – a band I’d heard about at various points and knew I should see. My first thought was “Weezer with a woman” – until I realised the singer was in fact a man. No biggie, just totally invalidates my insightful review. During their set, I realised the sound was terrible in the barn this year. It was really difficult to make out any of the lyrics, I couldn’t tell if the vocals were flat or the reverb made it sound that way, and the bass drowned out much of the other instruments. Previous years sound has been MUCH better, which is likely due to the new walls, concrete floor and decorative barrels backing the Barn Stage. Visually it was very appealing, however I can’t help but surmise that it affected the sound more than was originally anticipated. I felt bad for the band, but hey, at least they were having fun. Their second song sounded much better – the vocals and rhythm had a bit of a bit Fall Out Boy vibe – but it was still heavily impacted by the sound quality. It’s a shame as the band’s energy was great and I feel that in a different setting their gig would have been brilliant.

Overall, Jocktoberfest 2019 was fantastic – even though I had to miss half of it. The musicians were all high quality, talented and professional. What I personally enjoyed this year was that there were a few more artists from further afield. I’m of the opinion that local bands should be showcased first and foremost, but lately I’ve been finding that the same acts play the same places over and over, and the Inverness music scene is becoming a little samey for my liking. I really enjoyed the opportunity to see different artists than I usually would on any given Inverness weekend.

I also enjoyed the beer, but that’s to be expected.

Solareye – The Phoenix – 04/07/19 XpoNorth 2019

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Holy shit guys, I’M BACK! Where have I been, you demand? Fucking nowhere m8. Well, that’s not true. I was off gallivanting at Eden Festival down in the Borders (which was EXCELLENT, by the way), and otherwise paying The Market Bar’s mortgage with my love of a good pint. That shit gets expensive, so I’ve been working to fund my frolics too – hence the radio silence on my part. SOZNOTSOZ.

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ANYWAY it’s XpoNorth this week, which means us Nettlers have to venture outside and sample other venues outside of our beloved HQ. It’s a strange new experience for us, but we only do it once a year. So far, we’ve coped appropriately. Personally I hadn’t been in The Phoenix in about 15 years – not for any reason other than I’m too lazy to walk down Academy Street – so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turns out a lot has changed, and a lot has not. It’s been decorated and I absolutely do not remember it being the size it is, but the drinks are still as cheap as their choice of toilet paper. £2.20 for a tequila? I’m in there like swimwear mate.

I missed all of Wednesday’s Xpo shenanigans for personal reasons, but thankfully Woolly Dermal will be filling you in on those. There was nae danger of me missing Thursday though – I’d been told all week how fantastic Solareye was, and how I didn’t want to miss him. I wasn’t convinced as I’m by no means a hip-hop or rap fan but SHIT. HE WAS SO GOOD. I’m aware as a reviewer I should know more adjectives than ‘good’, but fuck you, I’m the writer here.

Solareye’s first song was played to a packed room which only kept filling throughout his set. We’d arrived early in order to get a seat (I’m far too old and far too crippled to stand at gigs these days) and caught the end of Lizzie Green, and I’d thought it was full then. It wasn’t. By the end of Solareye’s set, it seemed everyone and their dog had popped in for a swatch and I can see why – the Stanley Odd frontman puts on one hell of a show.

The second tune was an interesting experiment; a whole song – three verses – all in the same rhyming scheme. He asks ‘is this repetitive?’ in the chorus and it is, but in a good way. It flowed seamlessly, and his charisma and confidence oozed out of every pore. It was a strange juxtaposition of this guy knowing he’s good, but without arrogance (or having a face you’d want to punch). This was a man who knew how to engage the audience and pump up the atmosphere. I’ll not lie, I was giving this big licks.

The scope of the topics covered in Solareye’s set was vast and powerful, ranging from critique of consumerism to soggy Weetabix with his wee man. If you’d told me he’d be jumping from pillar to post subject wise, I’d have scoffed and said “that’ll be shite mate”. But it wasn’t shite, it was fascinating. There was an overarching theme of disenchantment intricately laced throughout his lyrics which tied the set together perfectly, and the exceptional delivery and general atmosphere made this the best gig I’ve ever seen at XpoNorth, hands down.

Now for some loop pedal beatboxing; I did not expect that. A disclaimer of “this is entirely reliant on technology” and hoping it didn’t go to shit was entirely unnecessary; the whole thing went off without a hitch. This is the kind of shit that mediocre Ed Sheeran-types record and think of as revolutionary, when underground artists have been perfecting that shit for years. I left feeling empowered and enlightened (if not mildly attacked for having my phone out during the set, I was recording for you cunts), rather than my usual drunk and (mildly) disappointed. You can find a couple of videos of Solareye’s set below if you were unlucky enough to miss it.

All in all, 15/10 pal. Cheers for a belter.

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Lauren Ray – Velocity 30.10.18

Reading Time: 5 minutes


Hello and welcome to a (very) late review of another gig I decided to grace with my presence. As you may know, we’ve had some technical difficulties here at TheNettle, myself being one of them. Unfortunately life has a funny habit of bursting into the way and creating a backlog longer than the Brexit negotiations (and only marginally less fruitful). Hey, look at me being topical – who knew a pile of chips could be up to date with current affairs? Not me, that’s for sure. Anyway, enough basking in my own greatness; let’s get down to business.

First, let’s have a wee chat about the venue before we get into the nitty-gritty. Velocity is a cafe and bicycle workshop in the centre of Inverness. Its bright, breezy, packed to the gills with cake, and centres it’s ethos around sustainability and community improvement. As well as all that goodness, they run a number of initiatives such as cycling clubs and bike repair workshops, and have recently been named one of the best bike cafes in Scotland. Being a social enterprise, all of their profits are paid straight back into their workshops and initiatives in order to ensure that anyone interested in participating does not find themselves excluded on the basis of finance. All in all, it’s a wonderful little place and the perfect venue for a wee acoustic gig on a Tuesday night.

Prior to the gig, I must admit I hadn’t heard of Lauren Ray. Generally speaking, I’m terrible at picking up anything past 1999, thanks to Y2K obliterating my motherboard. Nonetheless I’d been told that she was brilliant and I had to make it to the gig, so I obliged. The cafe was set out differently than usual, with a keyboard in the corner surrounded by fairy lights, and the tables shuffled about a bit. I noticed quickly that there was no microphone or amp to be seen – interesting. I quickly realised why however, Lauren didn’t need one. Velocity’s bare walls and high ceilings lent the perfect acoustics to her voice. The venue and artist complimented each other beautifully. I’d overheard Lauren’s conversations with a few of the audience members; some of them had travelled from Newcastle and Glasgow to see her play, and sounded to be die-hard fans of hers. If someone is willing to travel from another country to the arse end of nowhere to see her play, she must be good I thought. Turns out, I wasn’t wrong.

A note in the interests of transparency before I discuss the gig itself- I was (very professionally) using my phone to take notes. Remember I said technology is a problem? Yeah, the app crashed and I lost everything, so I don’t have a complete set list and have used the album I bought (We Will Need Courage, 2016) to jog my memory. It’s only a tenner by the way, you should buy it. ANYWAY.


I will start by saying that Lauren’s voice is incredible. She has been described as having a velvety, effortless voice and I can’t think of better adjectives. Her soft, silky tones filled the room despite there being no amplification – so well in fact that there was banging from the flat upstairs. I don’t know why, I’d have been delighted to have sat at home getting a free gig of this calibre. Her song ‘Be A Man’ highlighted this perfectly. A song about desire, her passionate lyrics and spectacular melisma really showcased her talent and you could feel the excitement and tension of the chase in every word. It’s on her ‘Inside the Silence EP’ from this year by the way.



Another song that stood out to me was ‘Drive’, a song I take to be about taking the next step in a relationship. With lyrics like “to take this leap we’ll need courage” and “you take the gas and I’ll take the wheel” there’s a clear message there: feel the fear and do it anyway. Ray’s delivery of this was once again perfect and beautiful, and having listened to it recorded I have to say, she’s even better live. The album is exceptional, but as with all recordings it doesn’t capture the atmosphere of being captivated by an artist baring their soul so openly and with such humility, and the devotion of the crowd only accentuated that aspect. It’s also worth noting that many of the songs Ray played tonight were recorded on guitar, however only a keyboard was present during the gig. Although I didn’t know that at the time, it tells me that she is not only exceptionally talented but versatile, too. There’s nothing wrong with only knowing one instrument (I mean, I know none…) but knowing two grants a great deal more respect in my book.

The song that stuck out in my mind – without having to inorganically jog my memory – was ‘Come to Me’. Ray prefaced this song by stating that she’d written it for a friend who was trapped in a violent relationship, to tell her that she is always there no matter the time or how long it takes. It’s a poignant display of understanding and the love of friendship. In the song, Ray starts by asking her friend to get up from the bathroom floor, that she knows about the medication her friend thinks is a secret (without passing judgement on her) and tells her to “come to me” when she leaves her abuser. All in all, it’s a truly beautiful song about true friendship, love, understanding and courage, and is worth buying the album for alone.

With the gig finished, I hung about and swithered for far too long as to whether I should buy a t-shirt, or put some cash in the electric meter to get me to payday. Sadly, the leccy won out as I’d already bought the CD. It did mean I got to have a chat with Ray though, and she was truly lovely. It’s refreshing to meet someone who’s musical personality matches up with their true self. It’s beyond me why anyone would drive up to Inverness from London for a gig, but I’m very glad she did. It’s not like me to write such a sickly sweet piece (with minimal swearing, may I add) but I fully enjoyed both the gig and the venue, and can’t wait to experience either again.


Jocktoberfest 2018 – Friday – Chips and Gravy

Reading Time: 5 minutes


Ah, Jocktoberfest. For those of you who don’t know, Jocktoberfest is a two-day celebration of local beer and great music – or as I see it – an excuse to get pished in the wild. It’s a festival loosely styled on the German tradition of Ocktoberfest (with more hay and less lederhosen) held on an old farm just outside Inverness – the famous Black Isle Brewery itself. Yer man here was foolishly trusted with a pint and a pen, so here lies my review of the whole shindig. Well, the memorable bits of the shindig – I did say there was beer.

Now, full disclosure, I’ve been to Jocktoberfest in previous years. Granted, this was before I realised I could put words in order and publish them on the internet so I could bask in my own literary prowess, but those are stories for another day. I knew it was going to be a weekend full of booze and bands, and I knew I had a tent to kip in, that was all I needed. After a short and swift journey, I arrived at the site, ready to take on the weekend. Well, I would have been, had I realised I was two hours early for the arena opening. “Not to worry, I’ll get my tent up” I thought to myself, “that shouldn’t be too hard.” Fucking BOLLOCKS TO THAT. All the old Gods and the new had decided it was time to blow a bastard of a hoolie and simultaneously pish it down, leaving me scrambling for sheets of ‘waterproof’ fabric and bendy sticks whilst miserably cold and moist. It worked in my favour though, I passed those two hours.

The arena was easy to find as ever – go straight ahead at the Haggis Emporium – not what my hangover would need in the morning, but never mind – and through the gates. After a glorious four minutes in a portaloo I’ll never get back, I wandered over to the Dutch Barn (also known as the main stage) and settled in for an evening of tunes and tribulations.

First up we had Keir Gibson, a delight of a young man. I have various notes comparing him to Ed Sheeran, Connor Oberst, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and a ‘somehow less-depressed’ Passenger. Ultimately, he was good, eh? He looked a bit nervous up there alone, but in fairness he was opening a music festival, I’d have shit myself silly in his position. Playing songs from his new EP, his voice was heavy and emotional whilst his guitar was twangy and melodic. Even this miserable old bastard’s heart was touched by his music – something that hasn’t happened since the Max Headroom incident scared it right out of my chest, taking any semblance of joy with it and leaving behind an empty, gaping void yearning for the mechanical giggling to stop. Ahem. Moving on.

Keir Gibson taking one for the team – he’s an expert fly catcher.


Following my emotional reawakening were local band Table for Four, giving it big licks to the sounds of Britney Spears. I didn’t think metal and 2007’s biggest mistake was a combination that could ever work together, but like sausages and jam, they did (just). Noticing that there were four of them but no table, the band cracked out a rather crude number called “The Blowjob Song”.

Actual footage of me trying to figure out the above dilemmas.


At least, I think it was called that. If it wasn’t it should have been. The lyrics were something along the lines of liking a girl but she’s busy “sucking on his dick”. I was left with questions. Was this misogynistic despite a female singer? How would I feel about it if the singer was male? Why aren’t I at the bar? With that, I went to the bar. It was the only logical next step.

T44 – Table for 4, table 4 4, table 4 four Tfor4. T4four, hashtag something something table.










Despite my emotional anguish, I did enjoy Table for Four. They were just the right amount of polished and energetic, without being irritating or wanky. Had I taken more notes I’m sure I’d have something more insightful to say here but true to form, I disappoint. Come on, it wouldn’t be a Chips & Gravy special if I said anything useful.


Thankfully, there was some more music to be greedily lapped up by my thirsty ears; a cover band named Guilty Pleasures. The clue is in the name; they performed covers of every cheesy pop song you can think of from the last few decades. Donning stripes and sparkles even I was jealous of, the singer belted out updated versions of old favourites; Michael Jackson, Bananarama and even Lionel Ritchie. I remember thinking initially that Guilty Pleasures would have been more suited to a wedding or pub performance, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The audience were cutting shapes and taking names and the band were clearly having the time of their lives. As someone who contemplates a skinny dip off the Kessock Bridge when cheesy pop surfaces, I did not expect to enjoy this band. I was pleasantly surprised, and that surprised me.

I’d look this smug if I was this good, too.

A couple of pints later and it was time to get in about Tweed – a local Ceilidh band who were noticeably devoid of any tweed attire. Not that this deterred me, I was already keen for a ceilidh, but nothing gets me in the mood like an accordion playing the Tetris song. I couldn’t believe my luck when they belted that one out. “These are my people,” I thought. As I was stumbling through my own drunken version of the Gay Gordons, the band called out the group of wee roasters ruining everyone’s fun in the middle of the crowd. In my experience, audience bad behaviour generally goes unnoticed or unannounced by folks on the stage but not this time. Tweed politely asked them to calm down, stating that they’d “rather have a happy dancefloor than six happy punters”. Nice one. The group of ‘lads lads lads lads’ were told in no uncertain terms to go away, and joy once again descended on the audience. The atmosphere was electric as the band flawlessly performed a Scottish folk version of A Ha’s Take On Me, followed by Runrig’s Loch Lomond. With not a dry eye in the house, the crowd begged for one more tune. The evil stage managers were not originally keen for this, but the audience very much were. After some time of booing and audible disdain, Tweed were granted ‘wan mare choon’ and normal service was resumed. Pints were had, dancing was judged, and it was time for a short and damp trundle off to bed for me.

Don’t let this photo fool you; the drummer was more than just an arm.

You’ll be glad to know I stayed for Saturday too, and I have some more words and that coming for you in the next few days. I know you can barely contain your excitement but do try, there’s only so much wild-eyed adoration I can take.

Belladrum Friday – Chips and Gravy

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As I sit in this here pub being slowly deafened by the world’s worst example of heavy guitar backed wailing, I find myself having flashbacks of Belladrum. In between wishing for death of course, but that’s nothing new. My Saturday was interspersed with similar auditory warfare, and I consider myself to be a survivor. This review is Friday however, so you’ve just read a pile of my pish for no reason. Congratulations.

Friday started off moist, and not in a good way. The tent had leaked overnight, and I’d mutated into some sort of hungover amphibian hybrid nightmare. Once I’d recovered from the terror that comes with a near death experience such as almost drowning in my sleep, I realised all my belongings were also damp and disappointed. This was not the morning I had wanted, but it was probably the morning I deserved. Not only had I been woken by the desperate slamming of portapotty doors as the first comedown shits of the festival tore through the bowels of men everywhere, but I’d had to do it cold and wet. On reflection yes; it was the morning I deserved.

After some deep soul searching I decided nothing could make my Atlantis-remake of a morning worse, and so I gathered some companions and headed in to the Burke and Hair stage for a weird and wonderful (if I were on acid) play titles Les Idiottes. The title was true to the subject matter, of which I understood none. Les Idiottes was a strange pantomime-y affair; a man dressed like Elton John’s wet dream accompanied by a dude that looked like Steve Urwin’s wake. Still, it was lively. I needed to tap in to some form of energy source, and I’m not fussy. The play was weird, in my professional as fuck opinion. It was to be a comedy – and it was for a bit – until it started to feel creepy. There were some unwarranted innuendos, followed by forcibly inserting a group of women into the performance (which culminated in a ‘wedding’ that the ‘bride’ looked wholly uncomfortable having to partake in). The less said about Les Idiottes the better, I’d say.

Next up we had Inverness’s very own Depeche Mode cover band, The Dazed Digital Age. I’m not sure they necessarily cover as much as copy Depeche Mode, but I don’t think it matters. I thought they were fucking brilliant, which is a compliment despite my introduction. They seem to have some form of dress code, in that tshirts were not allowed. The singer wore a jumper, while guitarman wore a tartan suit jacket, nipples akimbo. Did they forget, or is this a rule? Who knows. The lads screaming “take your top off” certainly didn’t. Maybe the indoor sunglasses and 1980’s headband threw them off course. A few tunes later and the band storm off stage in some kind of dramatic “fuck the audience” statement. This might have been fitting for a band with massive success and earned ego, but for a relatively new band lucky enough to play the Seedlings stage at the biggest festival in the north nah. It came across as barefaced wankery. Time for a drink.

Despite the shit start to my day, the skies were starting to brighten. I came across some abandoned beer tokens and toddled off to experience some Savanna Dry tent hospitality. A few cans and a complimentary pair of sunglasses later and I was ready for my final commitment of the day; Hey Argentina! – a one-man play by the sensational Hamish MacDonald, a favourite. I had no idea what to expect as previously I’d only seen Hamish perform spoken word and musical satire. Turns out, I still have no idea. The play’s protagonist was an erratic and excitable football fan named Alan who was on a mission to see Scotland win the 1978 FIFA World Cup.


Unfortunately, I know less than fuck all about football and found myself lost through most of the references. The plot was fairly easy to follow, but I do feel I’d have gotten a lot more out of it had I was familiar with the ‘beautiful’ game. In fact, the companions I’d dragged along with me seemed much more enthused – and I put this down to a deeper understanding of the subject matter than my dead hamster-brain was capable of. The play began to take a dark turn – and without spoiling it for you, dear reader – becoming about much more than just football. The set was purposely minimal; a couple of silhouettes, a Scotland scarf and some photographs as props. It was clear that the aesthetics were a major part of the performance and story arc. Hamish delivered every line flawlessly and with intense passion – despite the running time of close to two hours – which is demonstrative of his professionalism and talent. A tiny part of me wanted to hate this play, because I’m deeply envious of the man’s skills. It was impossible though. He’s too good. It’s infuriating.
After being dazzled by the ever-cool Hamish, I took myself for a drink like the sound cunt I am. Unfortunately for the Nettle, drunk-me was very generous with drinks for sober-me and I was in bed by 9pm with no recollection of anything after dinner. I expect I had a good time, good craic and nobody died, but I guess I’ll never know. Potential R.I.P, fella.

APACHE DARLING – Mad Hatters – 19/08/2018

Reading Time: 6 minutes

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A double hit – giggles served with with a complimentary side of pure magic man!

Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I found a new favourite band completely by accident. And of course, revel in the idea of you being slowly driven mad over the next few days because you can’t stop humming that fucking Fresh Prince theme. I like to treat my readers well.

A bit of context: I’m injured and in pain as a result. A lot of pain. So being a responsible, high functioning, grade A, “10/10 would recommend to a friend adult,” I’ve been drinking. I’ve become a transient bar-hopper, desperately seeking my next pint as I find myself barred from the fifth pub this evening. Last night that bar was Mad Hatters. A sexy little number, tucked away where tourists can’t be arsed to wander, painted dark and slathered in fairy lights. There were even candles last night. REAL candles, with a flame and everything. Real fire in a room full of drunk potential arsonists. I think Madhatters is beginning to trust us. I also think that trust is misplaced.

Too busy laughing to take some photos – sozzerlollies – here’s their tour poster.

I got myself comfy (as comfy as one can on a wooden kiddy stool when they have an arse the size of mine – half an inch to the left and that ‘chair’ would have been swallowed whole) pint in hand and found myself pleasantly surprised to have caught the final leg of the Teuchters Comedy Club  – Arse End of Nowhere tour. Five stand up comedians and a host, almost two hours of comedy for free. Even if it’s shit you can’t lose, right? Turns out, I couldn’t lose. Regrettably I’d sunk a few too many Mickey Finn’s than I should have and forgot to take notes or pictures (alcohol abuse can have its drawbacks), yet I soldier on. Having been to Teuchters before, I noticed a lot of the comedians recycling their jokes. Now of course, this is understandable and generally how stand up works, but knowing the punchlines the second you hear the opening line can put a dampener on your experience. I have no problem with hearing jokes repeated at different shows, as long as that isn’t the basis for the whole set. Inverness is a small town and you do a lot of shows, throw me some variety! I can confirm that Jenny Johnson was fantastic as always, however. A couple of jokes of hers I’d heard before, but she threw in just enough new material to keep me cackling like the dying hyena I am. She looks like she owns the stage – pacing around and lunging like it’s leg day whilst displaying the energy levels of an electric hamster in a bubble bath. She is unafraid to take up space in a profession dominated by and associated with men. She rattles off period jokes, soaking in the unspoken camaraderie between the women in the audience whilst simultaneously reveling in watching the ‘ladsladslads’ squirm. She’s a breath of fresh air in my highly fucking professional opinion.

Kieran Lochore headlined the show in the most delightful way possible – passionately singing Beatles medleys in German and giving Metallica’s Enter Sandman a gleefully perky rejig. I’ve seen Kieran perform with Teuchters before, but this was the first time I’d seen him with a guitar and a suitcase full of musical craic. His set was absolutely headline worthy and wishes they hadn’t sent such a shite reviewer to cover it. Sorry guys, my bad. Pictures next time.

Making up for the two pound sixty glass of coke.


I was fully prepared to go home after the comedy due to both exhaustion and the arrival of some unsavoury characters. They probably didn’t do anything, but they looked unsavoury to me. You can’t tell me who to like, mum. I’m an adult now and- sorry, I got carried away. I’d have gone home instantly if an unexpectedly captivating band hadn’t just swaggered to the stage, but here Apache Darling were, in all their bold and bolshy glory. I was so in.

The singer Stephanie was confident, robust and extremely fucking talented. Despite the mic not picking up certain pitches correctly, her voice was powerful enough to carry over to the audience unaided. Her passion for the lyrics was clear to see, and she delivered each line with pure emotion. I knew I was hooked. The genre flitted between pop punk, electronic and folk, and was right up my street. They reminded me of Pvris with less screaming; more upbeat and certainly less depressed. The dress code seemed to be black and white (except for the keyboard traitor player), which gave me first album (White Noise for those who are interested) Pvris vibes. Basically, I’ve seen the Scottish Pvris. That might not sound like a compliment, but it fucking is. Go listen, now.


Anyway, the band was comprised of two women and two men, all four dripping with charisma seemingly without effort. I’d hate these people if I didn’t bloody love them. This was Apache Darling’s first tour, which was announced as they asked the audience for their patience while they played one of their songs live for the first time in two years. They didn’t need to add that preface it turned out, as the band pulled off the performance flawlessly. Embarrassingly for me, I chose this moment for a cigarette break, getting caught downstairs by the aforementioned unsavoury characters and talked at for fifteen minutes. This led me to miss most of the rest of the set. I will never forgive those bastards.

I eventually got rid of the unsavouries and managed to catch the band’s last song; Ghost. An emotional tune that reminded me of Paramore but when they were good. Stefanie’s voice was something Hayley-esque, but with much more depth and a generous helping of vibrato. Some lovely harmonies and the realisation that the guitarist was playing a five string later and the band try to leave the stage. That was not to be, as the crowd characteristically demanded “wan mair choon”, to which Mr Keyboard (Andrew Black) responded “I hadn’t even thought about this, we literally don’t have any more songs”. They literally didn’t. After a chat amongst themselves, they settled on playing their new track, Bubblegum, for a second time. I’d missed the first, so this filled me with childlike delight. The song started off with what I wrote was ‘kinda sexy rap”, eventually transitioning into an emotive chorus about uncommunicative relationships. Stephanie whips a tambourine out, the drunk solo dancefloor inhabitant ruins my totally fucking professional photos of the band for the fiftieth time, and I resign myself to a new reality, where a band from Glasgow stole my heart on their first tour.


APACHE DARLING live at Hootananny Inverness, electro funking the fuck out of a Sunday night

Posted by on Sunday, 19 August 2018

Now, can anybody remember the mystery verse of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?

Here’s a robot repeating all that as he takes time out from dealing with the unruly robot peasants in robot Downton Abbey.

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Amy MacDonald – Belladrum 2018 – 02/08/2018

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 2018 – Thursday night

Well everyone, it’s time to talk Belladrum! Let’s start with Thursday, shall we? That seems logical. Or it would, if I actually bloody saw anything other than Amy MacDonald and Woolly Dermal’s deep-seated disappointment. Still; Thursday comes before Friday, so allow me to talk you through my waking nightmare.

It all began with an omen in the shape of my car dying. Anyone who knows me knows I drive something akin to a motorised wheelbarrow (base model, obviously). Today was the day that my dear 11-year-old shit-mobile finally kicked the bucket, leaving myself and my fellow reporter in need of a bus. A big, stinking, sweaty bus. Mingling with other people is very low on my list of priorities (somewhere below using my nether-regions as piranha bait while fire ants gnaw off my nipples) so I was delighted at the prospect. The less said about the journey the better.

Roughly five hours after we intended to arrive, we were finally on site! The wrong side of the site. “Fucking fantastic” I thought, “I could do with a 20-minute walk carrying 100lbs of cheese/wine/extra weight”. Good job I enjoyed that, because once we arrived at the other side of the site, we had to go BACK (via the main road) carrying all the shit we’d just trudged over. Now, I’m a heavy smoker, heavy drinker and a heavy unit. I was not built for this kind of exercise. Still, with the prospect of getting absolutely bloody shitfaced on the line, I trundled on. Everyone applauds.

What felt like ten days later, we arrive at our campsite. Cool. I did it. I feel spectacular, like I’ve just won the lottery or been gifted a korma flavour Pot Noodle. Time to put the tent up! Cue rain. Torrential fucking rain. Soaked-to-the-skin, Hollywood-crying-scene, rainforest-would-be-proud rain. It rained so heavily that when I woke up on Friday morning, I realised it had rained inside the tent as we were putting it up. I was having such a good time. Anyway, a good Samaritan helps this poor, fat old bastard to pitch a tent (head out of the gutter, you dirtbag) and it’s off to catch the only act I know is playing: Amy MacDonald.

Like Woolly, I also forget that the main stage is called the Garden Stage every fucking year. In my case it’s alcohol abuse, in his? Well, he’s just an idiot. Anyway, I digress. After some deliberating with my fellow crew, we remember this vital titbit of information and make our way to the only act we will see today.

Now, I was a huge Amy MacDonald fan as a young’un. Something about her Scottish accent, deep vocals and twangy guitar spoke to me as a little shit of a teenager, so I was excited to see her. I rarely find myself excited by anything other than the sweet release of death, so this was a turn up for the books. I will admit that I didn’t know any of her songs past the first album, because as a little shit of a teenager it became suddenly uncool to listen to any music you actually enjoyed, and instead you’d torture yourself with wailing ballads about how nobody understands you. Wearing literal kilos of black eyeliner and dying your hair red was not optional. I still regret this stage of my life.

Regrettably I didn’t make notes of the setlist due to the torrential downpour, but I can say that Amy played Poison Prince, Let’s Start A Band, Youth of Today and “the one everyone knows” (Fremsley, 2018) Mr Rock & Roll. Not with 100% certainty, but enough to be my usual arrogant and over-confident self.

For me, Youth of Today was a particular highlight; not just of the evening but of Belladrum itself. This song meant a lot to pre-little shit me. A song about the attitudes of the older generations towards us ‘millenials’ and our ideas as we try to carve a better life for ourselves in an economic and social climate designed only to tear us down. A fitting metaphor even today – eleven years later – as we fight for a future independent of Westminster rule. This song sparked a fire in me, spurred me into politics and granted me the confidence to have a voice when those around me insisted I stay silent. Amy delivered it true to form; beautifully, courageously and full of Glasgow twang. This was a poignant moment for me that I’ll treasure for years to come.

A little later in her performance, streamers were shot from the top of the Garden Stage into the audience in a rainbow arrangement, another big moment for me. I don’t know whether the intention was as a statement of support for the LGBT community, or if they thought “here eh rainbows are well nice mun” but I prefer the former. It warmed the cockles of my little gay heart, and – coupled with the outstanding performance I was witnessing – really made my shitemare of a day worthwhile.

Sorry, I got a little deep and serious there, that’s not my usual form. Should I make a dick joke? I’m out of my depth here. Ahem. Anyway, I had to leave before the end of her set due to my being so damp I smelled worse that your granny’s loft. Stay tuned for my review of Friday and Saturday, which will be longer, meatier, and might even entertain less of my pish. Adios amigos!


Robin Abbot – 21/07/2018 – Ironworks Inverness pt 3

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Hi, hello, hi. It’s me – Chips and Gravy, ready to blow your tits off with some more dazzling witticisms and scathing self-deprecation. Strap in kids, it’s going to be a mediocre ride.

Picture it: Saturday night in Inverness. The weather is miserable, the local lads don their finest tracksuits, and the pavement is a measly two inches deep with seagull shite. Not a bad night for this place I must say. Time for a journey into the city’s answer to Wembley Stadium: the Ironworks.

Pesky seagulls everywhere


I quickly realised the venue’s Groundhog Day-like properties (it hasn’t been painted since my last visit… in 2007) but hey, it’s not raining in here. Time for a pint. JOKE! After my last venture into the wild; I’ve signed off the booze for a while. There are only so many times I can enjoy getting lifted, and I doubt the coppers enjoy lifting me either. I’m a large unit, so I’m told.

Ian’s atmospheric set complimented by a spooky blue stage

ANYWAY, lets get to the point, shall we? A pint of coke (diet, although I’m fairly certain another flavour [edited – now now!] was present among other circles in attendance) and it’s time to enjoy me some fine tunes. Sadly, I arrived late and missed the majority of the first support act, Iain Mclaughlin’s set. What I did see was mind-bendy and brilliant. Somehow one man managed to sound like an entire symphony; loop pedal after loop pedal filled the room with eerie guitar, slow beats and utterly haunting vocals. I’m still gutted to have missed the rest of the set, this dude was shit hot (sorry, I’ve used my adjective allowance for the day, humour me).

A short break interspersed with cigarettes and seagull sightings was followed by Dr Wook’s short but perfectly formed set. An amalgamation of folk, country and acoustic rock shouldn’t have the power to fill a room but alas, fill the room it did. And well, I’d say. Admittedly I didn’t pay as much attention to the music as I did my professional as fuck photography equipment (iPhone 7, bitchessss). I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I remember telling my partner I would buy his CD if I didn’t have more debt than the Eurozone.

More cigarettes, more seagulls and more distasteful cawing from the aforementioned flying fuckers almost led me astray but thankfully Robin Abbot, the man we’d all been waiting for, was about to begin. I’ve seen Robin play the Market Bar more times than I’d like to remember, however this was different. Everyone (including me, wow-fucking-wee) was there to see a local legend realise his dream and finally release his own music into the grabby claws of the general public. Speaking of which, each person was given a copy of his EP “If Not Now?” upon entry to the venue. This gig was so good that I’ve actually listened to it rather than chuck it into the ever-growing pile of discarded Kerrang! freebies and software installation discs from days gone by. This EP deserves more than life as an ash and alcohol-stained, fag-burnt coaster.

I realise I should talk about the set, the setlist and the general atmosphere, however Cornwallace and Woolly Dermal have thankfully beaten me to it. I can say that despite the infestation of sky-vermin, (very) questionable dancing and lack of alcohol, the evening was fantastic. Robin’s songs were full of emotion and sincerity, made even more poignant by the many friends called up from the audience to play with him. I hope one day to be sociable to a point where my friends would even consider being seen out with me, never mind turn up and play at my gigs. Who am I kidding? I have no friends (except beer, and he’s dead now).

I know I’ll see Robin play again (and probably again and again and again) but this was a very special night. And I didn’t even get shat on – not by anyone who matters, anyway. 11/10 would see again.

Part 1

Robin Abbot – Ironworks – 21/07/18 part-1

Part 2

Robin Abbot – Ironworks – 21/07/2018 part 2

Ben and Emily – The Market Bar – 08/07/2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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It’s hot as hell here at the minute and as someone who’s day job is in a greenhouse, I’m fucking miserable. With a strong desire to drink myself into a false sense of not melting, I decided to check out Ben and Emily’s gig at the Market Bar. They sell booze, I am poor, and if the music is terrible then tequila is affordable. “Let’s get shitfaced”, I thought to myself. What could go wrong?

I arrived early, knocked back a beer and got settled in. It was quiet during the soundcheck, with Ben ordering a Guinness here and there to get ready to face his public. At least, I think that was Ben. He didn’t look like an Emily, but I could always be wrong. I usually am.

Anyway, enough rambling. Let’s get down to business. I’ve seen the pair’s other band, Spring Break,  play multiple gigs in Inverness and was forewarned that this gig would be very different from them. I like Spring Break and their tropical highland hip hop. I’ll admit, I had no idea what to expect. That turned out to be a good thing.

The warmth of Emily’s vocals filled the room with happiness

The crowd had picked up a bit by the time Ben and Emily took to the stage, opening their set with a cover of a song I didn’t recognise. That’s normal, I’ve been living under a rock for the past three decades. The opener was a good indicator of what was to come; upbeat, snappy chords from Ben accompanied by Emily’s powerful and precise vocals. I knew I was going to enjoy this.

As the duo flawlessly careered through covers of Damien Rice, Paolo Nutini and Jason Mraz, it was clear that Emily was making herself at home on the stage. Ben has this air of confidence about him that allows him to look comfortable regardless of setting, whether it be a headline stage at Xpo North, or taking a leisurely dip in an Icelandic volcano. His presence seemed to reassure Emily, and coupled with the crowd’s reaction to her outstanding vocals, she blew the room away.

Ben, in an Icelandic volcano
Not Ben in a volcano.

I have to say, I was quite drunk at this point and my notes get messy. I drew a cat, pictured below for the sake of transparency.

Fuelled by vodka and heat exhaustion, my heavy heart was soon to explode with joy. Adele is a guilty pleasure of mine, and Ben and Emily’s rendition of ‘Hiding My Heart’  – and here’s a journalistic cliché – did not disappoint. Emily’s vocals were exquisite and haunting, while Ben’s soft strumming provided a melody arguably more fitting than the original. Emily’s voice filled the room with seemingly no effort, and delivered each note with the precision you’d expect from a seasoned superstar. I can say with confidence that I fell in love with her at this point, and my notes turned into a drunken stream of consciousness that was no more useful than it was comprehensible.

Next up was an acoustic cover of Lorde’s Royals. Astoundingly it was just as full of attitude and – dare I say – sass, as the original. A true testament to the talent of these two musicians. I think it was next up, anyway. I was truly shitfaced by this point; the novelty of a recovery Monday will do that to a working class hero like myself.

I am aware that I am essentially proposing marriage, six kids and a big house to Ben and Emily in this piece, but bear with me. 

Emily on full throttle

The undeniable highlight of the gig was Emily’s own song, “Little Girl”; an upbeat melody with a heartbreaking lyric to balance it out. That’s what I like- misery – dressed up all pretty and socially acceptable. The delivery of this song was full of emotion and somehow even better than the covers I’ve gushed about above. I would buy this. Hell, I WANT to buy this. Hit me up, my dudes. Hit. Me. Up.

A few more fantastically performed covers and the gig is at and end. I don’t think I’ve ever been sad to see the end of a local gig before, usually I’m dying to get to the bar and help my cirrhosis along. Not this time. It seemed the crowd agreed with me, chanting our national anthem “WAN MARE CHOON” at my new deities of choice. I resigned myself to a tomorrow full of agony and ordered myself another tequila.

As I’m writing this, I am realising that I’m finding this exceedingly difficult. That’s because I’m not used to being positive in any sense. I’m known for being, well, a bit of a dick. Yet here I am, using more complimentary adjectives than I have in my life, combined. It’s time for me to go, I’m sure there’s a child I can steal ice cream from somewhere to restore the universe to it’s natural balance, and hopefully put an end to this torturous heatwave. You’re welcome.

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Crowd in the palm of her hand – the one without the microphone.