This year marked fifteen years since I first tramped along the fields at the legendary Scottish festival T in the Park. I was 16 and I have to say that although I have been to many since, none have ever quite matched it. I had also never been even been camping before.
On the Friday night we camped next to a gigantic tent that was filled with what seemed like a gang of crazy skinheads who spent the night jumping about their tent to techno. When we woke the next morning, they had all vanished, and were never seen again although their tent was there all weekend. Blur headlined on the Saturday, but, I was an Oasis fan, and at 16 I thought it was cooler to snub them. It was the Stereophonics that were the highlight of that weekend. Their album Performance and Cocktails forever reminds me of coming home after very little sleep all weekend to find I was locked out of my house. I rolled out my sleeping bag and slept in my back yard with that album on my CD player.
This year marked a change in venue from Balado to Strathallan. Unfortunately, it was not a smooth transition and I will refrain from spending the full article complaining about the abysmal state of the car parks and drop off points, the almost complete lack of signage and the people left stranded on Saturday and Sunday night.
Too old to spend the full weekend now, I drove up for the Friday. By the time we eventually got in to the main venue after sitting in traffic for over an hour, we caught the Wombats on the main stage. I loved their first album, A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation but I am afraid I don’t think they have managed to better it yet. Their more recent albums, while perfectly reasonable, have never managed to capture the excitement or angst of the first. On stage, Mathew Murphy lacks the kind of energy a front man needs, his posture and lack of energy a little too middle-aged for a thirty-year old rock star. Thankfully guitarist Tord Overland Knudsen had enough energy for Murph as well as the thousands of fans watching, jumping about the stage as though he weighed nothing, and to be fair he probably doesn’t. They started with classic ‘Moving to New York’ and finished with ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’, the latter encouraging the crowd to pogo and chant “Everything is going wrong but we’re so happy”. Although pretty laidback, it did end on a high.
Next up was Radio One DJ, Annie Mac. Dance music experienced live at a music festival can create an incredible buzz and if you didn’t know, the kids are really into Annie Mac. She was really rather good. The young yins had a good old-time chanting her name and going mental for ‘House Every Weekend’ and other modern dance anthems. She had a fantastic energy and a funky stage set complete with cartoon Annie Mac, afro et al.
Hozier was up next with his all female band and he did not disappoint. He saved ‘Take Me to Church’ for last allowing me to really appreciate some of the songs from his album that have not quite had the attention of his breakthrough single. ‘Someone New’ had the crowd going mad, and his cover of ‘Problem’ was excellent. He changed guitars at every song and I am pretty sure he couldn’t hear anything in his ear piece if I understood his hand signals to the crew off stage and his look of annoyance. It was not however noticeable in terms of his performance and he is a tight performer, his voice is never out of key or lacking conviction and his guitar skills are definitely talented. The set made me want to listen to more of his stuff which is about as much as any up and coming live act could ask for.
Rudimental are fast becoming TITP favourites who appeared on the Main Stage for the third time. Fantastic vocals, and banging bass lines are a given from this group of artists who clearly have enjoy being stage. Their hit single, ‘Waiting All Night’ is always a favourite with audiences even despite the absence of Emilé Sande.
Definitely a close second for my act of the day was Sam Smith. The guy is just simply adorable. His wonderful singing voice and gracious manner is such that everyone in the crowd felt like they were sharing something special with him. He shared both truths and tears with us and I have to say he really touched me. His performance of ‘Leave Your Lover’ was incredibly heartfelt, and he still managed to sing flawlessly despite being reduced to tears. The crowd belted out ‘Like I Can,’ the satisfaction of thousands of fans singing back his own words written all over Smith’s face. Audience participation was also taken to the max with ‘Money on My Mind’. His cover of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ went down a treat and of course he ended his set with ‘I’m Not the Only One’, clearly loved by everyone in the audience. His performance was quite simply an enjoyable experience.
It is safe to say that Kasabian were undoubtedly the rock gods of the evening and in my opinion, the weekend. They swaggered on stage and threw attitude all over the crowd from start to finish. The guys have been around for over fifteen years and in that time have released five albums and it was clear most of the crowd were familiar with most of them.
Tom Meighan is everything a front man should be: the curling lip, the puffed out chest, and the sneering voice and guitarist Sergio Pizzorno proved yet again that he is not just a guitarist, entertaining the crowd with his energy and charm as much as his skills on guitar. Few bands have quite managed to infuse rock and electronic dance quite so well, meaning live, they are capable of giving the crowd the enjoyment of belting out well known chorus lines that create that unique sense of oneness, as well as pounding bass lines and electronic beats that you can shake your ass to.
Kasabian are a band who must be seen live to be appreciated, their performance a perfectly honed art. They are fucking cool, they know it and after their set, that is how everyone else felt.