FESTIVAL REVIEW : Connect Festival 2023 – Day Two 26th August 2023, Royal Highland Centre Edinburgh

As the gates opened, the clouds started to part, leaving a blue sky above the festival grounds. Today’s line-up is grabbing some attention after the Glastonbury performances from today’s headliner, Fred Again, on the Grand Parade stage and Friendly Fires on the Guitar and Other Machines stage.

We start over at the Guitar and Other Machines stage, taking in Glasgow rock band Humour. The band, full of energy, delivered a passionate performance. They aired their new single Wrangel during their short set as they opened the Guitar and Other Machines stage.

A small wander over to the Unknown Pleasures stage (a DJ area within the festival area) to catch up and come Glasgow DJ and promoter Jamie Gunn spins the records, delivering an easy-listening vibe and delighting the crowd listening to the music.

It was back over to the Guitar and Other Machines stage to take in Edinburgh experimental band Redolent. Danny and Robin Herbert, the band’s frontmen, are known for their punchy music and catchy lyrics. After a few technical issues, they made up for it with a blistering set. This is definitely a band to watch out for. Check out their new EP, Big Money.

The first stop on the Grand Parade stage is to see the excellent Biig Piig, which features Irish producer and singer Jessic Smyth. Delivering her electro-pop sound with catchy lyrics, she had the Edinburgh audience in full voice and dancing along to the catchy beats. An energetic set that saw her cover the full length of the stage without taking time to take a breath. Some of the songs that were highlighted were Roses and Gold and the excellent Sunny. The crowd was in full voice, singing along to Oh No and the brilliant Feels Right. This was a powerful performance from the Irish singer that went down a storm with the Connect crowd.

Next up was a mystic performance from the excellent Kelly Lee Owens, the Welsh musician and producer. Coming on stage in red and black with a cape surrounded by her keyboards and recording equipment, she had the audience intrigued by the music and the mystical way she commanded herself around her keyboards. It was a powerful combination of the music and her beautiful vocals that captured the imagination of the Edinburgh audience. You were gripped by the stage as she delivered an amazing set that delighted the Connect Festival audience.

Over at the Guitars and Other Machines stage, Canadian singer-songwriter Leith Ross gathered quite a crowd as she performed her own blend of indie rock. Chatting and telling stories about songs saw her perform (You) on My Arm before playing the song that was made famous by her on Tik Tok, We’ll Never Have Sex, which had the voices of the Edinburgh audience singing back to her. This was a delightful set with energy and passionate lyrics well worth checking out.

A familiar face welcomed us to the stage at the Tiny Changes-run Gardeners Cottage stage in the form of Frightened Rabbit’s guitarist performing as a cover act. The news was flowing around the festival site, and by the time Haiver featuring Billy Kennedy took the stage, the small area was packed with folk standing well outside the gardens trying to catch a glimpse of the performance and taking in the music. Billy delighted the crowd with a few Frightened Rabbit songs along with his own solo one. This was a remarkable performance for a stripped-down set.

On the Grand Parade stage, American indie pop band Muna delivered a thrilling performance that had the crowd fully engaged, dancing and singing along to their contagious teenybop style of pop. Their catchy lyrics and upbeat music created the perfect combination that captivated the audience. Kicking off the set with the outstanding track “What I Want,” the lead singer effortlessly commanded the entire stage, delighting fans at the front. The setlist showcased their talent with songs like “Stayaway,” “Taken,” and “One That Got Away,” leading up to the closing number “Silk Chiffon,” a truly awe-inspiring moment that had the entire audience singing at the top of their lungs.

Taahliah, the talented DJ and producer, took over the Guitars and Other Machines stage, captivating the audience with her music that had everyone on their feet, dancing in front of the stage. Her confident performance exuded power, emanating from the stage and captivating the crowd.

Rosin Murphy captivated the Edinburgh crowd at The Grand Parade with her mesmerising stage presence and enchanting vocals. Dressed in a long black cape and a Zoro-type hat, she exuded an air of mystery and intrigue as she effortlessly spun around the stage, utilising her cape to add a theatrical flair to her performance. Her animated demeanour was further enhanced by the use of the stage camera, which allowed her to see herself on the large LED screen at the back of the stage. From the opening song, “Can’t Replicate,” Murphy’s voice exuded tremendous atmosphere and energy, immediately capturing the imagination of the audience. The setlist included standout tracks like “The Universe” and the powerful “Incapable,” solidifying her reign over the Edinburgh audience. As the performance reached its end, Murphy had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand, leaving them longing for more of her timeless songs and captivating vocals. The night was brought to a triumphant close with the crowd favourite, “Sing It Back,” truly showcasing Murphy’s ability to command the stage and leave a lasting impact on her audience.

The local band Young Fathers made a triumphant return to their hometown of Edinburgh, captivating the audience with their unique and captivating performance. As they took to the stage at the Grand Parade, it was evident that they had meticulously crafted an intimate setting, making the stage feel like a small venue. This setup instantly drew the crowd in, creating an atmosphere that was both electric and personal.

It is impossible to adequately express the power that young fathers exude in words. Their three astounding vocalists, combined with the incredible music behind them, created a sound that was truly awe-inspiring. As they belted out their songs, the energy emanating from the stage reverberated through the front rows of the audience and beyond. It was palpable, and you could feel the passion pulsating through their music, making the festival ground come alive.

The Young Fathers showcased a repertoire of songs that left an indelible mark on the audience. Songs like “I Saw,” “Queen Is Dead,” “Rain or Shine,” and “Geronimo” showcased the band’s remarkable musical prowess. The infectious beats and melodies had everyone’s feet tapping and their bodies moving in sync with the rhythm. The crowd was completely absorbed in the band’s set, taking in every moment with pure delight.

If there’s one band that you absolutely cannot miss, it’s Young Fathers. Their performance is a tour de force that will leave you spellbound. Their ability to captivate and move the audience is unparalleled, and you will undoubtedly be left with a sense of awe after witnessing their powerful and remarkable music. Young Fathers is a band that delivers an experience like no other, and attending one of their shows is an absolute must. Next up on the Guitar and Other Machines stage was the highly anticipated headline band, Friendly Fires. The crowd was buzzing with excitement, and it was clear that the venue was packed to the brim. As the band took the stage, the crowd erupted into cheers, ready to be delighted by their incredible performance.

Friendly Fires wasted no time in delivering a powerful set that had the audience on their feet from the very first note. They kicked things off with their hit track “Jump In The Pool,” instantly setting the energetic and vibrant tone for the rest of the night. The crowd was immediately captivated, singing along and dancing to every beat.

One of the highlights of the night came when lead singer Ed Macfarlane decided to jump into the crowd, joining his fans for an exhilarating dance. The festival atmosphere was infectious, and Macfarlane’s energy was contagious. His stunning vocals filled the air, reaching every corner of the venue as he effortlessly covered the entire stage and made his way into the crowd multiple times, even during instrumental parts.

It was evident that Friendly Fires had mastered the art of delivering an unforgettable performance to their audience. Their ability to connect with the crowd and create a relaxed, joyful atmosphere was truly remarkable. From crowd favourites like “Paris” and “In The Hospital” to the infectious “Lovesick” and the electrifying “Strobe,” the band flawlessly showcased their talent and left the crowd craving for more.

Friendly Fires had once again proven why they are regarded as one of the premier live acts in the music industry. Their headline set on the Guitar and Other Machines stage was nothing short of sensational, leaving the crowd in awe and undoubtedly ensuring a memorable experience for all in attendance.

The headliner on the main stage at the Grand Parade was Fred Again, a renowned DJ who had captivated audiences with his performance at Glastonbury earlier this year. The Connect Festival had the privilege of hosting him, and he did not disappoint. As the DJ took his place, a full-screen background displayed captivating images that perfectly complemented his music and vocals. The atmosphere was electric as the audience eagerly awaited the start of his show. Fred Again commenced his set with the energetic track “Kyle (I Found You),” setting the tone for an exhilarating performance. The crowd, consisting of enthusiastic music lovers from Edinburgh and beyond, couldn’t resist grooving along to the infectious beats. The DJ seamlessly transitioned into “Jungle,” a high-energy tune that further ignited the audience’s excitement. The contagious rhythm compelled even the most hesitant individuals to join the lively dance floor.

“Clap” followed suit, filling the air with an irresistible energy that resonated throughout the festival grounds. The crowd’s enthusiasm grew stronger with every beat, feeling the music coursing through their veins. Fred Again then delivered the melodic masterpiece “Adore U,” a track that struck a chord with the Edinburgh audience. It became evident that the DJ’s ability to connect with his fans was unparalleled, as they sang along to every word, their smiles shining brightly in the night.

As the performance progressed, Fred Again unleashed a series of mesmerising tracks, including “Danielle (smile on my face),” “Chanel / A New Error,” “Sabrina (I am a party),” and “Angie (I’ve been lost). Each song carried its own unique energy, captivating the crowd and providing an unforgettable musical experience. This masterful blend of pulsating beats, powerful vocals, and stunning visuals created an immersive atmosphere that left the audience in awe.

Billie (loving arms) marked the closing of Fred Again’s remarkable show. The track’s emotive nature touched the hearts of those present, fostering a sense of unity and connection among everyone gathered at the Grand Parade. As the last notes filled the air, the crowd erupted into thunderous applause, expressing their appreciation for the DJ’s impeccable performance.

Review & Photographs by James Edmond

Leave a Reply