T In The Park 2008: Radio 1/NME Stage
The good, the band and The Hoosiers
Gemma Fraser on 15 July 2008
What a way to open the Radio 1/NME stage for the weekend. The Scouse lads attract a huge crowd, putting each and every one of them in the mood for what lies ahead. Blasting out their huge hits 'Moving To New York' and 'Let's Dance To Joy Division', they congratulate their fans for going mad in the crowd. Job well done.
Scouting for Girls
Scouting for Girls are much like a festival cheeseburger - not very meaty, but it fills a gap. They made sure they keep their large crowd by saving their best - AKA most well known - songs 'Elvis Ain't Dead' and 'She's So Lovely' until last. The crowd - mainly pink-wellie-wearing girls with short skirts - seem satisfied but all I'm left with is a bad taste in my mouth.
The first pint is launched in a perfectly choreographed movement as the bass drum to 'Insomnia' kicks in. A hardcore crowd literally sprint to the front but an attempt for a mass spelling exercise falls on it's A.R.S.E with the rest of the revellers. As one passing Aussie sporting zebra-print trousers eloquently puts it – "who gives a fuck?" But the set isn't without its highlights. Singer Grant Nicholas' rendition of 'Buck Rogers' by starting it off with 'Monkey Gone To Heaven' is a nice touch. And a police/junkie chase during the first few riffs of the beautiful 'High' couldn't have been better timed.
The Chemical Brothers
As nightfall approaches, The Chemical Brothers explode onto stage with their brand of blockrockin' beats. Starting powerfully with 'Galvanize' and going straight into classics like 'Do It Again' and 'Hey Boy, Hey Girl', the electronic dance duo are riding high on the adrenaline of their own stage show. But as with all highs there must be a comedown and this one hits us like a brick wall. As the screens beam out their light show - featuring an impressive combination of red and blue dancing androgynous figures, hypnotic circles and incredibly scary clowns - start to flicker and fail, so do they. 'Out Of Control''s washed out vocals gives us the ultimate downer and while the majority of the crowd continue to point to the sky like it's a legitimate dance move, those of us who don't have a combo of Buckfast and E's still pumping through our veins are left with nothing more than a stinking hangover.
A bit of thrash metal for beginners is exactly what we need this morning to blow the cobwebs away. But The Blackout seem more keen on self-promotion than making the most of the opening slot and even denounce the stage they're playing on as being host to nothing but "indie pap". After threatening to murder us if we don't go and mosh with them during Rage Against The Machine or go and watch them during their second set of the day in the Relentless tent, they announce "Let's cause a big fucking vortex and lets all fuck off into the sky." Sounds good - just don't take me with you.
The Rocket Summer
And it seems The Rocket Summer are not rock n roll enough for the vortex and they're quickly spat back out, landing on the Radio 1/ NME stage with little impact. "You guys are awesome" comes the whiney American drawl. Thanks, but I'm afraid we can’t return the compliment.
All the way from Belgium, Deus are more than prepared for the Scottish summer by turning up dressed in jackets and scarves. But despite feeling the cold, the boys put on a spellbinding performance mimicking Pixies in some places with their vocals and bass lines while also incorporating a healthy dose of lead guitar. Unflinching when a Ned kicks a football onto the stage, Deus offer a touch of true no-frills and no nonsense musical class to the stage.
Bursting with energy and youthful enthusiasm from start to finish, the babies of the festival defy anyone to accuse them of being boring. A mass of topless bodies and bleached blonde hair, The Subways are outstanding and, understandably, attract the biggest, most dedicated crowd of the day so far. Though their new songs are well received - with a small band of loyal fans singing to every one - it's undoubtedly their old numbers that go down the best. Slowing down 'Mary' to build anticipation and commanding a two-way split sing-a-long with the crowd, The Subways prove that it's not just the festival veterans who know how to work an audience. With such a catalogue of hits already to choose from, they opt for the classic 'With You' before closing the set on 'Rock And Roll Queen' – let’s hope they do stay young for eternity.
A lot is expected of Manchester rockers The Courteeners this year. Debut album 'St Jude' was snapped up in it's thousands on release thanks to some classic tracks such as 'No You Didn't, No You Don't' and 'What Took You So Long'. But some fans turned up at T to see if they can deliver the same tracks live. They can. The aforementioned numbers went down a storm, as did 'King Of The New Road' and 'Acrylic'. A strong set from the boys that could see them propelled to higher things in time for TITP 09.
It's not summer if you can't have a dance in a field to the uber-confident, all encompassing tunes of the Pigeon Detectives. Unlike some bands who ride on the back of their successful debut albums for several consecutive festivals circuits, the Pigeons have some new material to offer us. Admittedly it doesn't have the same standing as 'I Found Out', 'Take Her Back' and set closer 'I'm Not Sorry' - which sends the crowd wild - I can guarantee we'll all be chanting along to the new songs this time next year.
The Raconteurs open with the title track of their new album 'Consoler of the Lonely'. Brendan Benson and a white face-painted Jack White deliver a flawless set mixing classics like 'Broken Boy Soldier' and 'Steady As She Goes', the latter receiving the loudest response from the crowd, who Jack White invites to join in. A professional performance from a band composed of gig veterans, proving the dissolution of The White Stripes has not been a bad thing - Jack's new sound is a perfect fusion of folk and rock.
Swiftly becoming T in the Park stalwarts, the Kaiser Chiefs have finally mastered it and justify their headlining spot with a blinding set. Realising that they have some tough competition against Rage and Ian Brown, they pull out all the stops. With songs like 'I Predict A Riot’ and 'Angry Mob' practically written for festivals, half the battle has been won. But not content with just that, singer Ricky Wilson cranks it up to the next level, ditching his trademark waistcoat after a few songs, and hanging up his nice-boy image with it. Surfing on the amps, shaking hands with the adoring front row and climbing the rigs, he actually looks like a rock star - and you can tell he's enjoying it. By he time 'Take My Temperature' arrives, he has the crowd gagging for more as they burst into a chorus of "Here we fucking go."
Mindless Self Indulgence
The Radio 1/NME stage starts a bit later than usual today and it quickly becomes clear why - the singer from Mindless Self Indulgence needed a good three hours to construct his hair into metre-long spikes. Between the guitarist pretending to knock himself out by banging into an amp and the singer dramatically miming along to a recording of "There's No Business Like Show Business" the word pantomime springs to mind. Ah well at least they got their name right.
One Night Only
There cant be many better ways to celebrate your 18th birthday than doing it at TITP. Unless, of course, you're George Craig, the teenage singer of One Night Only, whose celebrating his rite of passage by playing to an eager army of pop-ballad-hungry carnivores. And with a handful of radio-friendly hits - including 'You And Me' - they certainly get what they've paid for. They even get a lesson on the dangers of lobbing lighters onto the stage thrown in for good measure. One Night Only are the perfect sunshine band for a perfect sunkissed day.
In stark contrast to One Night Only, Powderfinger attract a modest gathering and judging by the number of Australian flags, most of them have been drafted in to give the Queensland boys some support. They pick up momentum half way through on their "End of tour party" but still sit firmly in the middle of the road surrounded by signposts for blandsville.
Another indie-pop offering for the Radio 1/NME stage, with emphasis on the word pop. The fun-loving chart-toppers have the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands as they belt out one cheesy number after the next. A cover of Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start The Fire' is a welcome addition, while 'Worried About Ray' is a perfect closing number as the boys bow out on a high.
Goo Goo Dolls
After numerous pop acts, the Goo Goo Dolls provide that little bit of rock that's needed to liven up the stage. Keeping their chat to a minimum (a thank you here and there seems to suffice) they power through their set riding high on their booming bass lines and John Reznik's soothing vocals. Here's betting they're rushing off to get themselves a good spot for REM tonight.
Panic At The Disco
Get out the eyeliner and lock up your teenage daughters, it's the emo boys Panic At The Disco here for their first T in the Park experience. Despite being renowned for their old-style circus shows, the Las Vegas quartet calmly plod through their set, which includes hits such as 'Camisado' and 'She's A Handsome Woman'. And even though we were promised an "eventful" performance the most adventurous they get is bringing out a few rugs on stage to make them feel at home. Now that's what I call hardcore.
The Zutons are definitely one of those bands best seen live – and preferably with a translator on hand so you can make out what singer Dave McCabe is talking about. After displaying a worrying obsession with Wet Wipes - which lasted for 3 songs - and belting out the fantastic festival fodder 'Why Won't You Give Me Your Love', they dedicate 'Valerie' to Amy Winehouse and "Wish her well in times of trouble". Despite being a bit disgruntled that she made the song bigger than they ever could, they can be safe in the knowledge that they did a much better job of it at T in the Park.
As far as the eye can see, the fields of Balado are transformed into one massive love-in as dance giants The Prodigy launch their on-stage assault on T in the Park. Wild man Keith Flint, dressed in a fetching red and white striped jacket proves he's lost no energy with age as he does laps of the stage twenty to the dozen. Ravers explode into a pile of glow sticks as they pump out classics including 'Breathe', 'Firestarter', 'Smack My Bitch Up' and 'Voodoo People'. A brief hug between Flint and Maxim shows how much they are enjoying their return to T, before the latter regains their bad boy image and pushes him away. The Essex rockers slip in some new tracks including 'World On Fire' and 'Mescalin', but it's the trips to the 90s that send the crowd wild. Just a short distance away, you can tell that those who chose to end T in the Park 2008 with REM are looking longingly towards at the electrifying light show and regretting their decision.