Thursday, September 17, 2009

It’s time to rock at Loopallu

It’s almost time for festival goers to pack away their tents and wellie boots for another year, but before they do, there’s Loopallu, the ‘best little fest in the west’ to attend, writes Susan Welsh

Dundee rockers The View will headline the opening night of the intimate two-day festival

SUMMERTIME is officially over when the clocks go back, but for festival goers, the summer of 2009 will draw to a close this weekend when the Loopallu festival gets under way.

Loopallu — that’s Ullapool spelled backwards – takes place in the pretty little fishing village of Ullapool on the shores of Loch Broom, where tomorrow and Saturday, the population will more than double as it prepares to welcome around 2,500 music fans.

Dundee rockers The View will headline the opening night of the intimate two-day festival tomorrow, on a wonderfully picturesque site adjacent to the loch.

Promoter Dougie Brown said: “Loopallu has activities for all ages and music for all ears and has been described as the sort of family gathering you’d actually like to go to.”

Although it’s considered by some to be a small festival in a remote location, the event, which is now in its fifth year, manages to attract some big names, giving more established and larger festivals a run for their money.

The likes of Echo and the Bunnymen, Franz Ferdinand, The Levellers and The Bees have all performed here, and this year’s programme is equally impressive with a line-up that includes The View, Mumford and Sons, The Dykeenies and the Lightning Seeds.

Event organiser Rob Hicks said: “We can’t quite believe this is year number five — where has the time gone?

“Time has literally flown by which I’m taking to be a good sign.

“Loopallu has become a bit of a family reunion for many who see it as the end of the festival season, as after this weekend they’ll be hanging up their wellies until next summer.

“This year, one of my personal highlights will be seeing Mumford and Sons as I’ve probably seen them a dozen times in the last year and think they are the best new band I’ve come across in the last few years.

“Every time I hear them they get better — it’s only a matter of time until they are huge stars.

“The View’s set will be another fantastic gig.

“I saw them a few weeks ago at the Reading Festival and thought they were the best I’d seen them in years.

“They seemed reinvigorated, confident and played really well together.”

Headlining the Friday night line-up are The View. Also appearing is the legendary Neville Staple, formerly of the Specials; one of Scotland’s hottest acts The Dykeenies; self confessed ‘product of the ipod generation’ Kid British, along with one of the fastest-rising acts in Scotland, Pearl and the Puppets; alternative Highland two-piece Bronto Skylift and a visit from the one and only Ullapool Pipe Band.

The honour of closing tomorrow night’s show falls to The View — and lead guitarist Pete Reilly is delighted.

“Loopallu is what a festival should be, slightly quirky and little with everyone there quite mellow, plus it’s in a great setting and is not commercial like some of the bigger festivals,” said Pete.

“The spirit of Loopallu is more like the original idea of what a festival was back in the early days, and I think it gives it an edge over some of the bigger ones.”

The band are currently working in a Liverpool recording studio, recording tracks for a new album which should be released early next year.

“We are flying from Liverpool to Inverness then driving to Ullapool, but I think half of the folk in Dundee are coming along too,” said Pete.

“Like Rob Hicks said, the band are playing really well together just now — I think Reading Festival was one of our best ever gigs.

“We are enthusiastic and really enjoying playing together, and are certainly more revitalised.

“Things have settled down a lot since that chaotic first album — or maybe we’re just getting a bit wiser at last,” he joked.

Saturday’s line-up is headlined by the Lightning Seeds and includes an appearance by Jon Fratelli, lead singer with Scottish rockers The Fratellis who have had massive hits including Chelsea Dagger, who will bring along his new band, The Codeine Velvet Club, a collaboration between Jon and Glasgow singer Lou Hickey, which promises to be something special.

Regular Loopallu guest, Radio 1 DJ Mark Radcliffe, will be there with his bar-room drinking band, The Family Mahone, while other acts worth getting excited about include the beautiful and captivating folk sounds of Mumford and Sons and firm festival favourites, The Dangleberries who went down a storm at this year’s Belladrum Festival.

Also on the bill is crossover act The Grousebeater Soundsystem, who blew away a packed-out clash tent at Rockness earlier this year; Glasgow’s quirky indie pop favourites French Wives, Polly and the Billets Doux and home-grown talent from Naked Strangers.

All this plus pub fringe shows, street entertainment, excellent mouth-watering local food and drink, and plenty of arts and craft stalls to keep little festival goers happy, makes it easy to see why the festival is known as the ‘best little fest in the west.

Weekend camping tickets are now sold out but at the time of going to press, a limited number of weekend tickets are available from a number of outlets including on the web:;; or by calling 0871 7894173.

By Susan Welsh, Press and Journal, 17th September 2009


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