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Bonfest 2024: Best bands for AC/DC fans to catch in Kirriemuir this Bank Holiday weekend

The annual celebration of beloved Kirrie son Bon Scott is back and bigger than ever.

Slide guitarist Dave Arcari will open up the main platform on Friday night at Bonfest 2024. Image: Supplied.
Slide guitarist Dave Arcari will open up the main platform on Friday night at Bonfest 2024. Image: Supplied.

A regular Angus feature since the ’90s, Bonfest is back this weekend and the air guitars are set to be brandished a proudly as ever.

The music festival named after the late Kirriemuir-raised AC/DC star Bon Scott will see thousands of visitors from across the UK and beyond descend on the town this weekend for the start of the hard rock extravaganza.

Dozens of bands will play six separate stages at venues across Kirrie over three days, with the roster ranging from breakout local artists to vastly experienced outfits of international repute.

The festival represents a unique celebration of the life and influence of Scott, who left his birth county for Australia aged six and went on to front the massive-selling rock icons AC/DC from 1974 until his death in 1980 at just 33.

Bon Scott is commemorated with a statue in his hometown, Kirriemuir. Image: DC Thomson.

It also raises funds for the Kirriemuir-based DD8 Music charity, which provides musical opportunities to young people.

Previous headliners include both legendary AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd and the man who has twice replaced him as the beat of the band, Chris Slade, who took his Timeline combo to Kirriemuir in 2014.

Other well-known names to have played the festival include American japesters Hayseed Dixie and West Lothian favourites The Amorettes.

And the latest edition of Bonfest is one of the most varied yet.

Bonfest 2024: Friday line-up highlights

Friday’s main arena line-up includes slide guitarist Dave Arcari, who has taken his brand of alt-blues to stages across Europe and the USA for the past couple of decades.

He’s scheduled to open Bonfest’s main platform at 6pm, ahead of a set from good-time Northern Irish rockers Screaming Eagles.

Besides being influenced by AC/DC, the Belfast four-piece also cite the likes of Airbourne and Audioslave as key references and showed their respect for the Kirriemuir event by releasing their own Live At Bonfest CD in 2018.

Friday headliners Powerage UK channel classic AC/DC. Image: Supplied.

Their latest studio album High Class Rock ‘N’ Roll landed last year, with metal website Get Ready To Rock writing: “There is a lot to like – it’s straightforward and even if you’ve heard it all before it could still become mildly addictive.”

Given the honour of headlining on Friday night are the pyrotechnic-loving Powerage UK, who’ll present what they describe as “the ultimate Bon Scott-era AC/DC tribute show” from 9pm.

Jacking up the hyperbole in a message to the fans this week, the band wrote on Facebook: “Get amped up and put it on 11 – prepare for an explosive night of pure adrenaline, spine-tingling riffs and mind-blowing energy!”

Bonfest 2024: Saturday line-up highlights

Saturday’s line-up kicks off with a set from veteran AC/DC devotees Trident mixing original material with classic rock covers. Fronted by Martin McGuire, the Kirkintilloch quartet have been around since the ’80s.

They’re followed at 7pm by New York melodic rock legends Tyketto, one of the biggest names to play Bonfest in recent years.

New York-based hard rockers Tyketto formed back in 1987. Image: Supplied.

The Danny Vaughn-led five-piece occupied the middle ground between Whitesnake and Bon Jovi on their debut album Don’t Come Easy back in 1991, with two further LPs following before they split in 1996.

A returning Tyketto released their fourth album in 2012 and went on to enjoy acclaim for their live shows over the rest of the decade.

By contrast, Saturday’s final main stage attraction is tribute Bon UK, whose frontman Mark Wright had a stint in AC/DC singer Brian Johnson’s former band Geordie.

No strangers to playing a leading role at Bonfest, the Lancashire headbangers previously headlined the festival in 2022 and describe their sound as: “No gimmicks, no school uniforms, just AC/DC rock’n’roll the way it should be!”

Bonfest 2024: Sunday line-up highlights

Sunday’s big draws include Forres-based rockers Bad Actress, who found a new lead singer last year in the shape of ex-Broken Ravens talent Toby Michaels – and it seems they’re again in a state of flux.

In the last few days their heavily tattooed bassist Mork has revealed he’s set to end his year-long stint in the band at Bonfest.

North of Scotland glam metallers Bad Actress are a popular live draw. Image: Supplied.

“I’m afraid the time has come for me to pop my shirt back on and part ways with Bad Actress,” the folk-punk stalwart said on Facebook.

“I will forever be thankful for the time I got to spend in the band and all it’s taught me, including a new instrument and a new genre that I never thought I’d get to dabble in.”

Bad Actress will be followed by the prog-tinged Empyre, who released their atmospheric second album Relentless last year.

The Northamptonshire four-piece, who are set to release their new stripped-back album Live And Unplugged later this month, have a claim to fame as one of the few rock acts to have recorded a radio session at Old Grey Whistle Test legend Bob Harris’s home studio.

Perhaps inevitably, however, it’s another tribute outfit that’ll bring the curtain down on Sunday – namely the AC/DC Experience.

Revelling in the Angus shorts and Brian-style baker boy hats, the Lancashire rockers play all their heroes’ biggest and brashest classics, including Highway To Hell, Back In Black and Whole Lotta Rosie.

Elsewhere, Kirriemuir Town Hall is hosting Bonfest gigs all weekend, with Liar, Ganked and Foo Fifers playing at Reform Street on Friday from 1.45pm.

The Wolves, Joker In The Hole and Elle Diablo are in action on Saturday, and it’s Pangean Sons, Love Train and Pure D/C on Sunday.

Outdoor gigs start at 11am by the town’s Bon Scott statue both Saturday and Sunday, with the likes of Sloblin, Permacrisis and Ice Rink among 13 outfits performing.

Another 16 bands feature at Kirriemuir’s Thrums Hotel, Attic Club and Airlie Arms from Friday, with DD8 Music running coaches linking the festival with various locations in Dundee all weekend.

For more information, visit the Bonfest 2024 website