Column: Rekindling the joy of live music after the silence of lockdown

It was certainly the smallest music festival I have ever attended - but it was probably one of the most significant.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 4th June 2021, 2:00 pm

In a field in the middle of nowhere in the Highlands, Scotland’s first music festival since the start of lockdown took place over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The site could accommodate 1500 people, but was set up for little more than 250. There are probably more hingers-on at big events such as T In the Park or TRNSMIT, but this wasn’t about numbers.

It was the first step towards bringing live music back after more than a year of silence.

Capers In Cannich was the first music festival held in Scotland since lockdown (Pic: Paul Mitchell/Wildman Media)

We were one mile from Cannich - it probably took longer to walk there than it did to walk around - and 17 from Beauly, for an event specially designed to meet the current times of life post lockdown.

Social distancing was at the heart of its structure. Our glamping bell tent had its own space and even a bale of hay outside to sit and watch the world go by.

In front of the stage more haybales where you could watch the bands within your own social bubble.

Food and drink came via orders on an app - alfresco table service - and the tents included sanitiser and face masks.

Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 headlining the opening night of Capers In Crannich (Pic: Paul Mitchell/Wildman media)

And it all worked brilliantly.

I’ve never been to such a relaxed festival - it was certainly the first one where a trio of alpacas were taken for a walk past our tent!

The music was fabulous - everything from jigs and reels to an 80s cover band - topped off with the brilliant Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 who are the perfect band to bring any festival to life.

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It’s a testimony to the conviction of the team behind Capers In Cannich that they went first, and demonstrated that we CAN go safely to gig and festivals.

The entire sector is still hamstrung by some bewildering restrictions which make operating almost impossible.

Every time a politician says we can now go to the theatre, they omit the awkward fact that none of them are open because social distancing makes them unviable.

The longer they stay closed, the greater the risk becomes that we will lose them completely.

The move to Level1 takes us a step closer to normality, but still the entertainment industry remains shackled, which is why events such as Capers In Cannich are so important.

They showed courage and vision where Glastonbury demonstrated none and simply packed its tent away for another year.

In going first, they deserve the thanks of every music fans across Scotland - that wee gathering in the Highlands might just have handed everyone else a blueprint on how to stage their own festivals and events.

And if they can do it in a field near Beauly then there is nothing stopping any big city or provincial town - including Kirkcaldy - harnessing the same confidence and ambition, and striking out boldly, and safely.

A year-plus without live music finally ended on Friday night.

As Springsteen once sang, from small things, Mama, big things one day come...

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