T In The Park 2008: Main Stage
Bigger, better and more brash than ever before
Photographer: Sara Bowrey15 July 2008
Homegirl KT Tunstall succeeds in waking the masses from their drunken slumber with a thumping set which pays no attention to her more delicate numbers in favour of thudding basslines and infectious choruses. 'Suddenly I See' provokes the first of many 60,000 strong sing-a-longs as the Scots indie rock chick receives a 'woo-hoo' of approval on the country's biggest stage.
Welsh rockers Stereophonics follow suit with a blistering set, littered with old classics including 'A Thousand Trees', 'Just Looking' and 'Mr Writer'. A fresh offering in 'It Means Nothing' punctuates a greatest hits set, as does a brief interlude of Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades'. Kelly Jones follows the festival book of etiquette by declaring T is the best crowd in the world; no one argues.
Following a classic performance and much applauded return to the live setting at Glasto, The Verve have a lot to live up to tonight. And with The Chemical Brothers in eyeshot, orchestrating a farmland rave at the NME Stage, no one needs reminding of the alternative joys to be had. But instead of looking nervous, Richard Ashcroft and Co swagger on stage as if they've just finished filming the 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' video and simply own T In The Park. The Brit-rock legends ooze confidence not witnessed at Balado since the last time the Gallagher brothers strolled through town and with an arsenal of genuine indie anthems and it’s easy to see why. 'Rolling People' is dedicated to Tony Montana and Tony Soprano while 'Lucky Man' goes out to Richard's good lady on their wedding anniversary."Has anyone here ever written a classic?" asks Ashcroft, before the spine-tingling start to 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' can be heard from the PA. And the buzz of anticipation is tangible as the acoustic guitar is lifted for a life-changing rendition of 'Drugs Don’t Work'. When life's this good, who needs drugs?
There's nothing quite like starting a morning party with a 60-year-old reggae star with grooves thick enough to chew. Eddy Grant might be an odd booking for Scotland's biggest stage, but he earns his slot with a surprisingly addictive display including 'Electric Avenue' and 'Baby Come Back'.
Another 'who the hell?' for The Kooks fans here today, Scots rockers Gun make the most of their appearance, opening with the stomping 'Shame On You' and by the time they have everyone chanting along to 'Word Up' they can count on a new army of followers to be at their next outing.
With the stage set out like a scene from the Little Mermaid, Kate Nash plumps herself down in the middle of her clam and proceeds to wow the crowd with the stage presence of a princess and voice of a female Mike Skinner. The cheeky redhead might look like she gets dressed in the dark, but with undeniable talent, both behind the piano and chords of a guitar – not to mention her infectious hit in 'Foundations' – we'll forgive her for the pink and green fashion nightmare.
Texas star Sharleen Spiteri enjoys a privileged position on today's bill considering her first solo album has only just reached the shelves of HMV, but with the captivating manner of a headliner she doesn't look at all out of place filling the stage on her tod. She runs through a short set of three new tracks, including the first single 'All The Times I Cried' but it’s a cover of The Killers' 'All These Things That I've Done' which gets the crowd going.
Guitar pop five piece The Feeling also get in on the covers action, chipping in with a successful take on the Buggles' hit 'Video Killed The Radio Star' and slightly more embarrassing A-ha's 'Take On Me'. Fortunately they do squeeze in some of their own material with 'Never Be Lonely' and 'I Love It When You Call' the main highlights.
Biffy Clyro take the stage for their record-breaking eighth performance at T in matching bright red skinny fit jeans and launch into a Puzzle-friendly blitz of high octane rock. After years of slowly working their way up the pecking order, from T Break to the main arena, the Ayrshire trio are a highly polished live act and judging by the swell of the crowd, could have easily have played later tonight without anyone batting an eyelid. Unfortunately for those who caught them at Download, Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading and every other field with a stage over the past year, the setlist has become a little tiresome, although new offering 'Mountains' is a welcome addition. 'Mon the Biffy!
Indie heroes The Kooks pay the price of the Biffy worship with a plod-along showing which proves to be an anti-climax after the frenetic energy of Simon Neil and the Johnston brothers. Spirits are picked up briefly during chart-topper 'Naïve' in what is otherwise an unremarkable night out for the scruffy English lads.
Thankfully, everyone's favourite party band, The Fratellis, aren't in the mood for moping around, especially after splashing out on a fancy cinema size screen stage set up usually reserved for headliners. New track 'Mistress Mabel' kicks-off the limb flailing mayhem and as the older gems are aired the front of the main stage becomes a tsunami of colourful flags and the occasional old crowd surfer. Obviously 'Chelsea Dagger' is the big one sparking the loudest reaction of the weekend as drunken strangers cuddle up like old pals and bounce along to Scotland's unofficial football anthem.
Finally, after all these years, the prayers, the promises to Santa that we'll be good and our wishes are finally answered, Rage Against The Machine are back… and its worth the wait. The politically driven metallers lay waste to Balado with a friendly high fives and head nodding of The Fratellis being replaced by a much more determined chaos. Mosh pits rip open sections within the D barrier as the American quartet deliver the most angry slabs from their back catalogue; 'Bulls On Parade', 'Bombtrack', 'Sleep Now In The Fire' and a jaw dropping rendition 'Bullet In The Head' all provide the backdrop to the apocalypse. And with finishing slavo of 'Freedom' and 'Killing In The Name' hyped up Zack De La Rocha and his fellow footsoldiers wrap up what is quite possibly the greatest T set in recent memory.
Watching Scots soft indie chick Amy Macdonald on stage is a bit like seeing your mate - albeit a very talented one - getting up at an open mic night. She just oozes genuine excitement and can't thank the crowd enough for coming to support her on this special occasion. It helps that she can play a bit too and has the voice of a Glasgow angel.
The Enemy arrived on the Main Stage to arguably the biggest swell of fans Balado has witnessed all weekend. Perhaps because of the great weather starting to appear through the thick grey clouds, perhaps because the rest of the bands on at the same time are crap, or maybe they are just that good? Either way the English trio don't waste a second of their slot, from the opening line to 'Away From Here' through the last forceful chant of 'You're Not Alone'. A betting man might make a wager that these boys will be back, sooner rather than later.
The crowd thins considerably for Counting Crows but that doesn't stop the seven-piece county rockers from putting on an excellent, if a little laid back show. The magical piano-led 'Colorblind' and crowd pleaser 'Mr Jones' are particular standouts.
Amy Winehouse sticks two fingers up to the bookies who had her at three to one for a no show when she finally appears on the Main Stage following last year's late cancellation. She is on her best behaviour and even dedicates 'Wake Up Alone' to her husband, Blake. The singer runs through tracks like 'Tears Dry On Their Own', 'Love Is A Losing Game' and staple cover of The Zutons’ 'Valerie', which revived the loudest cheer of the set.
Kings Of Leon are as familiar at T as the Slam Tent, the southern American rockers play so often, but you wouldn't think it by the buzz of anticipation before they stroll onto the stage. Perfect festival fodder with bankers like 'The Bucket' and 'Four Kicks' to rely on and one day, maybe, the organisers will allow them to have the top spot they enjoy everywhere else.
The honour tonight goes to the musical institution that is R.E.M. and the round off the weekend with a bumper set including tracks from their latest offering. Returning to the festival for the first time in five years, Michael Stipe and Co open with 'Living Well Is The Best Revenge' before rolling out hits such as 'Losing My Religion', 'The One I Love' and 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)'. Fans are treated to a very rare airing of 'Ignoreland', a track which has hardly ever been played live, during the 23-song set as well as tracks like 'Electrolite', 'Bad Day' and 'Drive'. Finale 'Man On The Moon', prompts a mass sing-a-long as the quartet bring another T In The Park to a close, but the crowd was substantially downsized as many were watching The Prodigy on the NME Stage.