T In The Park 2011
aaamusic | On 13, Jul 2011
Having opted for Thursday camping, things at T didn’t get off to the best start for my party with two early visits to the medical centre for a twisted ankle and stomach bug. Still, we awaited the start of T with excitement as Parade opened the festival in the King Tuts Wah Wah Tent. Playing a shorter than scheduled set, the band looked out of their depth opting to play covers whilst a rowdy Scottish audience were more interested in their looks. The View fared better in front of their fellow Scots, with their hit single Same Jeans receiving a typically rousing response.
As the day progressed Tom Jones had stepped up from Kings Tuts Wah Wah Tent to replace Jessie J, who had pulled out of the festival a few weeks before with a broken ankle. Playing mainly through his latest release Praise & Blame, Sir Tom proved a worthy addition to the main stage. Although his interaction with the crowd was astoundingly poor (He talked to the crowd ridiculously fast and told long-winded stories), the surprise performance of his 2000 Stereophonics collaboration Mama Told Me Not To Come and classic It’s Not Unusual more than made up for this.
Plan B had a tough job supporting crowd favourites The Arctic Monkeys, however he opened brilliantly by bringing on his touring support Faith SFX, whose combination of vocal tricks included several snippets of chart hits including Duck Sauce’s Barbara Streisand. Plan B didn’t have the wealth of songs needed to merit a position so high up on TITP’s bill and at times struggle to rouse the crowd into action. Nobody could fault the UK rappers efforts though and after a 13 track set he left the stage in true rock ‘n roll fashion by trashing the drum kit and hurling his mic to the ground.
Having previously seen and been disappointed by The Arctic Monkeys at two different festivals, I wasn’t relishing the thought of catching my home-town band in action again. Their previous festival appearances had always disappointed, in particular at Leeds festival in 2009 where they showcasing their album Humbug in its entirety despite it being released just four days prior. This time round Alex Turner and co. had learnt from their mistakes as they blasted into crowd pleasers Brianstorm & This House is a Circus early on. Although the lead singer remained fairly devoid of emotion and banter throughout the groups set, the inclusion of old favourites worked a treat on the crowd. The loudest roar from T of the night was reserved for Mardy Bum, a track previously retired and only brought back last month during two hometown gigs. The band had complained about the reaction they got when they previously played V and Leeds and Reading, but after tonight’s show they can have no such qualms. The Arctic Monkeys are back on top form.
Saturday proved an early start with the Fun Lovin’ Criminals playing the main stage at an eye wateringly early 12:45. Launching into their mega-hit Scooby Snacks, the band peaked too early into their set and the eclectic sound they offered wasn’t suited to a mass crowd in Scotland. N-Dubz also struggled to adapt to a festival crowd, with four backing dancers crammed onto the main stage the attention seemed to be drawn everywhere but to the band themselves. A severe absence of material from their breakthrough album Uncle B hindered the group further; however newer numbers like Best Behaviour still received strong reactions.
Next came the surprise act of the festival, Ke$ha. I’ve always been a huge fan of her prior to this performance, her mixture of dance/pop and obsession with all things bizarre makes her come across as a more likeable Lady GaGa. Her performance at T had everything a pop act needs, playing only her hit tracks and coating the crowd in confetti. Ke$ha even bantered with the crowd throughout, offering sexual acts to the crowd if they continued to sing-a-long to tracks from her debut album Animal. Despite this just being her second festival appearance (Glastonbury was her first), Ke$ha shone throughout and is definitely someone worth catching on the live circuit.
A quick dash across to King Tuts Wah Wah Tent sees a tent filled to the brim with The Saturdays fans. Catching four songs from their set, the band sounded on top form showcasing hits past and present before an appreciative crowd. Luckily enough I managed to catch my own personal four favourites before running to catch Manic Street Preachers on the main stage.
Playing through their classic hits, the Manics put on the type of solid show you’d expect from the band. It was the bands first appearance at T for a whopping fourteen years, having been banned after their 1997 headline set which saw them throw the drums into the crowd and trash the stage. They showed that whilst they might not be at headliner level anymore, they do still have the ability to enthuse a crowd as closer A Design For Life illustrated.
Chipmunk followed after the Manics, playing to a smaller than usual crowd in the King Tuts tent. Having previously opened the festival in 2010, Chipmunk has been ridiculed by myself and friends after he looked clueless on how to perform at a festival and eventually left the stage after arguing with the promoters for not extending his set time. This time round Chipmunk was much more polishing, offering a variety of songs from his debut album as well as his collaborative efforts such as recent hit Champion. At only 20 years of age, Chipmunk is an artist that has plenty of scope for the future.
Former Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Slash had a hard job entertaining the large crowd gathered at the main stage. Fronted by Alter Bridge’s Miles Kennedy, Slash simply didn’t have enough songs worthy of the crowd’s attention and had to resort to Guns ‘N Roses covers just to evoke some sort of reaction. Although his recent solo release was packed with variety and featured tons of top artists, his live show simply isn’t fit for a festival audience.
Taking a first trip over to the NME/Radio One stage, Jimmy Eat World showcased their wealth of hits across an hour long set. Opening up with their 10 year old single Bleed American, the band ploughed into their back catalogue playing hits including crowd-pleasers The Middle & Pain. Although Jimmy Eat World do not have the swagger or banter to headline a major festival, they’re always a safe bet to put on a show and this was no exception.
Beyonce was a surprise booking at T this year following the news Blink-182 had cancelled their European tour then only to announce they had planned a tour of America. Fans flocked to see Beyonce and a cursory glance at the festival suggests her inclusion has led to the increase of female festival revellers. After an impressive set at Glastonbury, everyone had high hopes of her performance at T. The problem was that Beyonce produced a word for word, carbon copy of her Glastonbury set. From her mixture of Destiny’s Child material to the cringe worthy moment when she entered the front row to shake hands, Beyonce put in no effort and she was lucky to leave T with an undeserving round of applause. Easily the most disappointing act across the entire weekend. Next time Beyonce, just bring Jay-Z.
Following on from Beyonce’s astoundingly poor set, it was left to Coldplay to save the day and deliver a performance worthy of T. Making their first appearance since 2003, Coldplay had the crowd in the palm of their hand from the word go. Everything worked for the band from start to finish, offering up classics like Yellow and In My Place early into their set. Despite playing the same songs as they did two weeks prior at Glastonbury, Coldplay catered their performance for T, changing the lyrics of songs and even covering Scottish favourites Travis with a reworked version of their single Why Does It Always Rain on Me. Coldplay stood out as the strongest headliner across the weekend, the pyro was amazing and the setlist has been tailored perfectly to keep the crowd singing and clapping throughout. You can still catch their performance on BBC Iplayer, look out for encore tracks Fix You and Clocks which drew the loudest response.
The good weather finally caught up with T as Sunday was filled with monsoon-styled rain pouring. I opted for the safety of the tent for the early stages of the day, proving far too wussy to contemplate a severe soaking. Once the rain had subsided slightly it was time for US alt.rockers Weezer, playing to a half filled main stage crowd. Fair play to the band and frontman Rivers Cuomo who fought through the crap weather and did his best to inspire a languid crowd, he even donned the official T in the Park poncho as a cape. Weezer were full of surprises throughout their set, treating the crowd to covers of Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag and bravely attempting Radiohead’s Paranoid Android. Constantly revered as one of the best live festival acts, Weezer just added to their reputation and would be welcomed back at T in the future with open arms.
Future Reading & Leeds headliners My Chemical Romance had the stage next, delivering a solid mixture of new and old tunes. The band played through their latest release Danger Days, with lead single Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) sparking mosh pits across Kinross’ muddy fields. Having already spoken about their excitement of playing Scotland, My Chemical Romance showed their headline quality getting the crowd to sing every word to their monster hit Welcome to the Black Parade.
For all the initial excitement for Pulp reunion, they don’t have enough songs to truly live up to the hype. Jarvis Cocker was on good form through the bands set, wiping his arse with the final edition of the News of the World. Throughout the set whenever Pulp were able to showcase their best work the band looked fantastic. Frontman Jarvis Cocker was easily able to rouse fans for classics like Common People, Disco 2000 and Something Changed; however the majority of fans at T’s Pulp knowledge was limited to that. The band did their best though and made it a memorable warm-up for the Foo Fighters.
Back to my first festival in 2005 was when Foo Fighters headlined T in the Park. They played a cracking set that time round, and now 6 years on the band arrived to conquer Kinross again. Although their set was a little heavy on material from their new album Wasting Light, classics like Learn To Fly and Breakout were always going to pave over the cracks in their performance. Aside from Dave Grohl, the rest of the band donned kilts late into their performance which drew screams of appreciation from the crowd. Despite this it proved not to be the best Foo Fighters performance, largely because of the constant extension of songs with extra guitar riffs, for instance Monkey Wrench proved to be a 15 minute rendition which doesn’t work in front of a festival crowd. For all their minor faults, Foo Fighters proved to be a worth closer for the festival which was ended by the traditional bagpipes and fireworks.
Another year for T proved to be another success. With Glastonbury taking a year out next year, T in the Park 2012 is sure to be the best year yet.
Author: Tom Crowther