Party at the Palace 2016

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 Linlithgow Palace

13th and 14th August 2016

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Spud’s Party

McEwan’s Party at the Palace is situated in the beautiful surroundings of Linlithgow Palace a most idyllic place to have a throw-back festival to the 80s and 90s.  With the weather holding out and the crowds growing, you could feel the atmosphere building, & with the queues stretching around the block it was apparent that the Saturday was a sell out. With the audience reaching over 8,000 this year compared to 2,500 last year, this mini T in the Park has grown in popularity. Then, with folding camper chairs in one hand and tickets in the other, the long queues soon disappeared. Access to the festival arena was easy and smooth, due to the well-organized stewards, security and staff. Its always a pleasure to attend a musical event like this and feel so well welcomed.

With an extravaganza of music stretching over two days this was sure to be a trip down memory lane for most of the 8,000 strong crowd.  With the Main Stage at the bottom of a small hill and the Star and Garter Stage further up the, the site was sized well for people to get around. There is entertainment to suit all here; kids activities, shows, more food than you could eat, a VIP area, local produce stalls and live music from two stages, boredom should not to an issue.  For those who enjoy a wee dram, there are beer and wine tents throughout the site ,but negotiating your way through all the chairs may prove difficult after a trips too the bar.

With Brother Apollo starting proceedings on the main stage, I wondered up to the Star and Garter to see local girl Saskia Eng preform some of her tracks. At only 14 years and with a voice like an angel this young lass is going to delight audiences for years to come. Also appearing on the Star and Garter was Saraswati, a Nepalese girl from Kathmandu. With a voice as smooth as silk, she showed her love for music & is someone to look out for the near future. There was also Lucia Fontaine, a 19-year-old lassie with a great vision of her musical goal who had the joy off playing both the main stage and the Star and Garter stage with her band.  An exciting concoction of rock guitar riffs and decisive vocals Lucia is a prodigy of the Scottish music scene.

Between Saturday and Sunday we had the pleasure of viewing such bands as Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, with there exhilarating and happy vibe propelling the entire crowd to their feet, leaving a smile on everybody’s faces.  Gun and the Bootleg Beatles also delivered good sets with fond memories floating around the revellers who revelled in the moment. Then The Fratellis and The Proclaimers gave the night a climatic ending… the crowds especially going nuts for “Chelsea Dagger” and “500 Miles.”

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Mid-afternoon on the Sunday saw Big Country take to the stage.  With a new line-up and frontman they wasted no time in getting down to all the old hits; “Fields of Fire” and “Harvest Home” brought smiles to many a face.  Then the eagerly awaiting fans of Heaven 17 were not disappointed. With the introduction of “I Don’t Need this Fascist Groove Thang”  the crowd went beserk.  With hit after hit they stole the moment; Play To Win, Crushed by the Wheels of Industry, Bowies “Boys Keep Swinging” and Temptation all went down well with the dancing new romantics. Then Andy Bell from Erasure entertained us not just with his classic tunes but also with his shorts. A trade-mark that Andy carried through his days with Erasure and is still proud to exhibit them today.

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Finally,  the legend that is Billy Ocean brought the night and the weekend to a close with his mixture of soul, soft reggae and loved up classics. I expected no less and that is exactly what we got from Mr Ocean. Perfection !!!! A true icon that delivers his set with love and heart. As he ran through Bob Marleys “No Woman No Cry” we all left with a new found love for Party At The Palace… a family friendly weekend that is sure to please all who had attended.

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Divines Party

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There is a curious phenomena amongst Fringe performers and reviewers, Divine has worked in both camps. That at this time of the of the month. Everyone’s knackered and pushing through a creative pain barrier. It happens every year and the solution is to get out of the madness and retune with mother nature. So with relish, I jumped at the chance of a weekend in the grounds of the stunningly beautiful Linlithgow Palace, for a musical trip down memory lane with trusty Mumble colleague, Raymond Speedie. We arrived with grace, and headed to the main stage to catch Lucia Fontane perform, with her equally talented band – a very gutsy Rock n Roll set that was perfectly suited to this massive stage and a P.A system so large and perfectly placed that every nuance could be heard. It was obvious that this young band and Lucia are going to be massive, not so much retro, more akin to the future of Rock n Roll. Divine’s pick of the day.
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Next up, the very reverend “Colonel Mustard And The Dijon Five” brought their brand of Yellow Fever to the mix and as usual had the audience in the Palms of their hands. This orchestra of goodness performed the Yellow canon, each song lifted the audience and a fun time was had by all – especially the many children that joined the band on stage, beaming Yellow rays of joy and lifting the spirits of all. They call it Yellow Fever. Great gig guys.
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By the time Gun hit the stage, the sparsly populated field that I had walked into suddenly became rammed. A unique thing that seems to be the custom of this party, is to bring a fold up camping chair and create a wall of camping chairs with no movement possible through the growing crowd. So I decided to go and listen to the Bootleg Beatles at the side of the Loch taking in its tranquility and beauty. By the time Revolution was sung, Divine was on his feet heading back to the arena to check out just how much they looked like the real thing. John Lennon was a giggle. It was quite obvious that everyone loved the songs and the band faithfully reproduced them with a gusto.
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The last band of the day I would witness was a young band called Kelvin, who performed on The Star And Garter stage. A young band that held me with raw brilliant musicianship, it was one of the magic moments where something clicked. In very much the same way, I would imagine, that The Beatles knew that they had something special. I certainly look forward to seeing this band of young Rock Stars perform in the future.
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Having slept deep and long, Party In The Palace isnae a sleepover. So was home by 11pm on the Saturday. Next day, Kasia joined us to become our camera lady of the day. We arrived just as Big Country were taking to the main stage, finding good positions to view proceedings and the sun began to shine. The next band on have been in my life for most of it and they always raise a rush of excitement when I see them live. Spud and Divine are part of The New Romantic Old school and Heaven 17 were part the movement that helped form and create boys that looked great in make up. Another plus point is the fact that they are from Yorkshire. When a bands repertoire has been moving you for thirty years or more, each song holds a special memory, while the techno updates on the reproduction of each of the electro classics offered very interesting ear-candy indeed.
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After Big Country and Heaven 17. Divine was needing fed and watered and a bit of space to take in the performance. So I headed to my special place by the loch of Linlithgow Palace. the watery sunlight warm and welcoming. I meditated. Returning to my companions, both Spud and I deliberated what Andy Bell was going to bring to the table. Would it be a well chosen DJ set or a Karoke of Erasure classics? To both our delight it was Andy Bell with a touring band that provided a slice of quality entertainment. Erasure are a Divine are a  guilty secret and I have been collecting their remixes for as long as CD singles have been available.That voice reproduced the classics that we have grown to love. Andy confirmed that he would be joining Vince Clark back in the studio to create a new Erasure album in the Autumn and dedicated one of the songs of this enlivening sunday afternoon sing-a-long to Vince.
One of the things I loved about this festival was the amazing P.A. System and the positioning of the speaker rack. It was during Andy Bell’s performance that I retreted to the back of the field. In the middle of folding camp chair island, I found a space where I could cut a rug and bust some moves. Right in front of the speaker rack at the back of the field. As a musician myself, it is always a good thing to take in the masters and Billy Ocean, although not an artist I would have on a turntable. He is an artist that is imprinted on the subconscious of 80’s children everywhere. Now an artist with silver-white dreads and a hard working soul and funk band, he recants a mix of Soul Classics and Billy Ocean hits. As dusk descended over Linlithgow Palace, the audience became one and a provided fitting end to this mixture of musial greats and musical not-so-greats. Billy sang beautifuly and we all went home for some Supper.
Reviewers : Raymond Speedie & Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Photography : Kasia Cluz
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