The countdown has begun to the biggest party ever to grace Aviemore, writes Susan Welsh
Having gone down a storm at the mighty Glastonbury Festival last month, The Maccabees have another big festival in their sights, this time one that’s a little closer to us. The London band are heading north to Aviemore and appearing at the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Aviemore, which takes place on Friday, July 31, and Saturday, August 1.
The Stopover, organised by Mumford & Sons, is much more than a concert or festival as it’s designed to be a celebration of a real place with real people. The entertainment isn’t confined to the festival area, but spills out into the town and encourages those attending to eat the local food, drink the local drink and spend plenty of time – and hopefully money – in the area. Arrive early, stay late is the request from the band.
The style of the festival is something Felix White, guitarist and singer with The Maccabees, is hugely impressed by: “We just finished an American tour with Mumford & Sons and they really are amazing. This initiative is incredible, plus the festival has Primal Scream, so it can’t fail.
“I’m looking forward to visiting Aviemore as, when I was a kid, I used to visit the Highlands with my parents. It was a long drive and I’ve only blurry memories of it, so I’m looking forward to renewing my acquaintance. On the drive, we used to listen to music such as the best of Van Morrison, The White Album by The Beatles, and Elvis Costello. Looking back at some of our music now, I sometimes think, wow, that sometimes sounds a bit like that song we used to listen to when we were kids, so they must unknowingly have had an influence on us. That’s sort of nice, as it means we’re going full circle.
“As a band, I think we’ve changed in every single way since we first started. We’ve known each other since we were 12 and we’re 30 now, so there’s bound to have been changes. Compared to how we played 10 years ago, I’d say we’re almost unrecognisable.
“By the time we play the Aviemore Stopover, our new album, Marks To Prove It, will have been out for a few weeks, so we’ll be playing five or six tracks from it, such as Something Like Happiness, which has a soulfulness which we haven’t done before. Overall, I’d say this is the best selection of singles we’ve ever had. We’ll also be playing a selection of tracks considered to be the best of The Maccabees.”
The Aviemore Stopover is tipped to be the biggest event that’s ever taken place in the town, which sits in the heart of an area renowned for its stunning beauty and scenery. It’s already a big draw for tourists, especially in the winter when snow-loving fans flock to hit the slopes. Mumford & Sons hope to attract some 25,000 fans to the Gentlemen of the Road Festival, which will take place on the beautiful Rothiemurchus Estate.
After revealing news of the festival, Ted Dwane, bassist of the multi-award-winning British rock band, said: “I visited the site when I was in the area doing a distillery tour with a friend about a month ago and it’s an amazing spot. We’ve done quite a lot in Scotland and have a real love for it. The landscape is amazing. It just gets better and better the farther north you go.
“Potentially, the whole world is a place to have a Stopover, so the list of potential places is whittled down until you get destinations that really work. We’d previously done two Highland tours and really enjoyed them, which is why the Highlands came up when it came to discussing the Stopover Festival. There are lots of prerequisites for the locations and Aviemore ticked all the boxes. Then you go and visit, speak to the locals and see if this is something they actually want, because it has to be a reciprocal agreement.”
The band have previously headlined RockNess and Loopallu, but this time they’re headlining their own Highland festival – with the help of a few friends such as The Maccabees, Primal Scream, Jack Garratt, Lianne La Havas, Honeyblood, King Charles, The Very Best and local singing sensation, Rachel Sermanni, whose connection with Mumford & Sons goes back a long way, having first met and jammed with them on a beach at Ullapool during one Loopallu Festival.
Rachel said: “I’m very excited to join this line-up and very proud to be a representative for the locals.”
Other Highlanders appearing include Neon Waltz and White.
Ted said: “A lot of our friends will be playing the festival with us, so it’s going to be one big party for us and the whole area.”
Tickets for the biggest party to hit the Aviemore area can be bought in person from the Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore; The Ironworks, Inverness, or online at www.gentlemenoftheroad.com/ stopovers/aviemore. A weekend ticket is priced at £109, while weekend camping tickets are £129. Under fives are admitted free, but tickets must be ordered in advance.