T In The Parkbrings out something primordial in the Scottish psyche. Something primeval, that relies on gut instinct and a healthy dose of alcohol. Matching a sensational bill with perhaps the wildest crowd in live music, T In The Park is upon us again. Here we fucking go…
Arriving on site on Friday (July 11), amid rumours of rain, gales and general nasty weather patterns, the site seems in glorious condition. With the sun in the sky and three days of music ahead, who can resist? Edwyn Collins provides the first emotional moment of the festival, with the former Orange Juice icon battling through a triumphant set. Over on the Main Stage, Geordie indie types Maximo Park tear through a sensational set that really gets the heart beating. Apparently singer Paul Smith has his trousers reinforced to prevent tearing when he does the splits – he certainly needs it, with the frontman on hugely energetic form.
The vast arena takes you from genre to genre, with the Slam tent wobbling enigmatically in the distance. However, that won’t be open until tomorrow, with fans being treated to a vintage performance from Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the Radio 1 stage. Karen O emerges clad in what resembles an incredibly beautiful Native American headdress, before the band tear through their recent album ‘It’s Blitz!’. Over on the Main Stage local heroes (well, sort of) Franz Ferdinand have the crowd in the palms of their hands. The Glasgow crew have been here and got the T-shirt, and know just the right buttons to push. Ending with a triumphant version of ‘Electric Dreams’, the band waves goodbye as the stage is re-arranged for Southern indie-rock overlords Kings Of Leon.
The Followills have had an incredible time since performing at last year’s T In The Park. Telling the crowd that they “have been waiting for this for a long time,” the band seems eager to entertain. Yet sound problems hamper the early part of the set before smash-hit single ‘Sex On Fire’ gets the party started. Pints go flying, flags are waved and reputations made. Surely one of the best live bands around, Kings Of Leon are on the top of their game, and proceed to rip through a career-spanning set.
Saturday (July 12) opens with yet more weather report-defying sunshine. What do they pay these people? Honestly, tossing a coin has more accuracy. With rapidly burning skin I head to Kings Tut’s Wah Wah Tent to absorb some ethereal bliss courtesy of M83. Swathes of glitchy electronica give way to Anthony Gonzalez’s sublime voice, with those lucky enough to be in attendance leaving clearly stunned. Manchester group Delphic have managed to grab a hell of a lot of attention in a short space of time, and it’s easy to see why given their performance in the Futures Tent. Effortlessly blending rock with dance elements, the band is so damn funky it’s difficult not to get caught up in their spiralling techno grooves.
Two bands that have already made their reputations follow. Rumour has it that Friendly Fires have fallen in love with samba music, with their set being heavy on percussion. But given their dance-orientated sound that’s no bad thing, with the St Albans’ group even unveiling a new song. In a triumph of lateral-minded scheduling Foals follow, with the math-rock titans recently speaking of their love of funk and soul. There’s nothing about their set that would sit at home on Stax, however, with the five-piece sending the packed tent into delirium with a performance that draws heavily on debut album ‘Antidotes’.
The Specials draw an epic crowd to the Main Stage, with many in attendance clearly in love with the band. Never before have so many trilbies and 2-Tone shirts been gathered in one place, at one time. There was never any question of the band failing to deliver the goods, with Terry Hall on typically acerbic form. Finishing with their hit ‘Ghost Town’ the band can’t have been prepared for the audience’s reaction, with tens of thousands of music fans calling for more.
Jane’s Addiction are rock gods, yet the band have cleaned up their act since their debauched heyday. They still deliver a slick live show though, and Perry Farrell remains a truly demented frontman. Leaping around the stage as if in the grips of demonic possession, he continually exhorts the crowd to get wilder – as if they need any encouragement. Yet the band lacks the danger that once made them so thrilling, with the delay in their performance no doubt fuelled by a new found love of pilates over any illicit goings on.
The Killers have not visited Balado for some time, with the Las Vegas quartet growing into one of the most popular bands in Scotland between T appearances. By way of apology perhaps, Brandon Flowers and co. play a lengthy set, opening with seismic single ‘Human’. Sure, it still doesn’t make any sense, but in the middle of fifty thousand people with their arms aloft, are you really going to complain?
Sadly, overnight the weather breaks, adding to Scotland’s reputation as the only nation on Earth whereby you can get sunburn and trench foot in the same weekend. Yet the ground remains solid and spirits remain high as Sunday (July 13) opens with a solid set from Glasgow newcomers Findo Gask. Regina Spektor’s trembling voice provides one of the weekend’s lump-in-throat moments, with the New York chanteuse on typically emotive form. By way of contrast, Seasick Steve favours brute force over persuasion, with the cult hobo-turned-bluesman on fine form, sipping Jack Daniel’s to huge cheers from the audience. Simian Mobile Disco are finally preparing to release their second album, ‘Temporary Pleasure’, and the electro two-piece have the Slam tent enraptured. Crystal clear sound provides ample evidence to back up the arena’s sterling reputation, before SMD drop ‘Hustler’ and the whole place explodes.
Exhausted, the slow crawl back to King Tut’s Wah Wah Tent begins. Yet aching limbs are soon forgotten as TV On The Radio take to the stage. With their album ‘Dear Science’ now having exhausted any critical platitude that can be placed on it, all that is left to say is: this band rocks. Sadly sounds problems hamper the set, but with the band keen to draw on their stunning back catalogue the audience doesn’t seem to mind.
Amid rumours of illness, cancellation and heartbreak for thousands of fans, Blur arrive onstage a good hour or so late. But no one is looking at their watch as the Britpop quartet plunge into debut single ‘She’s So High’. The mood of euphoria spreads throughout the crowd – after six years of waiting, three days of partying and one hour of standing around, here they are. Damon Albarn can’t help grinning to himself as the crowd sing along to their now iconic hits. Ending with a triumphant version of ‘The Universal’, the vast orchestral stabs seem to hint at the enormity of the occasion. Trying to get through the crowd is nearly impossible, with the monumental black mass stumbling underneath the light of erupting fireworks. Only a year until the next one? Here we fucking go…
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Check out Clash’s full T In The Park photo galleries, by Keri Fullwood:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
TV On The Radio
Simian Mobile Disco
Kings of Leon