T In The Park Festival: Balado, Perthshire – live review
11th – 13th July 2014
T In The Park Festival is now in its tenth year. In its final year at Balado Airfield its been headlined by Arctic Monkeys, Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris, Pixies, Ed Sheeran, Paolo Nutini, Paul Weller. Leigh Mullin was there for Louder Than War.
For some reason the box office is about a mile walk from the main entrance gate, and you’re even more unlucky if you parked in the south car park as it’s about a mile to the entrance gate, only to have to walk further then back again. I’m sure you can’t please everyone but I pity the bloke who exchanged fifteen quid only for this to happen.
We arrive about half two and the place is already a war zone. I think the glare and heat is adding to the Saharan atmosphere, it’s hot and dusty and there’s people already falling from too much drink and festival fever.
Unfortunately, by the time we get our bearings we’ve already missed most of The Foxes, this is exacerbated by the official mobile app which doesn’t appear to list the stage times. My guess is that it was designed purposefully this way, to encourage more sales of lanyards, which at a tenner a go is extortionate when you think that basic information such as stage times should be readily available. The Info page on the app was also as useful, it doesn’t even appear to have the address or postcode of Balado on it. Anyway, as for The Foxes, the young crowd appear to like the set and they go off to much applause. Later in the day I’m reminded again of my age when a couple tell me they think they’re “too old for T now”. They’re 25 and have been the “four year’s running now” – acht well, what’s left to see, must be pipe and slippers here on in!
One other pain in the arse (I’m starting to sound like Arthur Smith) is the lockers situation for day visitors. We are told there aren’t any. We really should’ve left our bag in the car. Amazingly, the app provides no further help on that subject also, but we are spurred on by the fact that we are sure they’ve had them in previous years, so ignore all advice and go looking anyway.
No official seems to know where the lockers are anyway, and when we do track it down, on the outside at the weekend camp, we have to take our photo with a nice bloke, Ivan, when we go into the camp looking for the lockers, which comes in useful when the guards then say we can’t come back in. A quick shout and wave from Ivan, and we are safely back inside the safety of the walled set of the next Hades.
Next up for us, mostly because they are closest after finding a drink are Maximo Park. Paul Smith has a great rapport with the audience, and sports a nice suit and hat. He opens with “this is T in The Park, we are Maximo Park” in his north eastern drawl. They then burst straight into their set with Paul only lasting the opener before having to remove his jacket through the heat. We make it to the third track before we are suffering from the beating sun and dire need of a toilet and we head on over to the VIP area.
We’ve gone for VIP tickets on account of an upcoming hip replacement (remarkably absent later during the Pixies set) and we bump into Leona and Ray, scousers, she’s won a competition on the radio for knowing which country T in the park is in. It was multiple choice text in, so I can’t be sure she actually knew. They’ve only bagged a free weekend in one of the posh tipis with a bed and watchtower security. They were also bussed up to Balado and then had a limousine deliver them to the camp. They’re off to see Biffy Clyro. Bless.
After a quick refresh in the “proper toilets” we stroll through the ensuing madness to our venue of the Day, King Tut’s to catch the start of the Magic Numbers.
They’ve opted for a mix of new and old, but the tracks from the new album take the mood down a gear (slow), and they lose the crowd a little. This is all forgiven at the end and I’m truly inspired by Michele Stodart’s bass playing, which means I’ve definitely been treated to two fine female bassists by the end of the day.
We have a gap between these and The Manics, which was meant to be filled by Chvrches, but hunger takes over and a wee sojourn at the main stage for the ever energetic Ellie Goulding, who it must be said, grabs a crowd!
And we are back. The tent is filled for the Manics, brilliant set (set list below) and again new numbers from the album Futurology, but this time with energy.
Bradfield owns the stage, and Nicky Wire looked like he was in heaven, albeit at first, from my vantage point stage left and failing eyesight, it looked like a heaven staffed heavily with Ronnie Wood lookalikes perhaps. Bradfield and Wire tell the crowd a few times how good they are and as the gig continues they seem to enjoy it more and more.
After an hour of energy and total connection with the audience they announce the end of the set is “a working class song” – I pull my phone out in the hope of getting some nice video, without the obligatory terrible sound from caused by reverberating bass. Design For Life has the crowd screaming and rocking in sync with the band, and it ends with Wire slowly tapping his microphone, almost inhaling the atmosphere before he removed his old bass guitar, turned and smashed it straight down to the stage three times before throwing it at the speakers. He picks it up again, smashing it more and trashing at the strings, which apparently cuts his fingers and tears a ligament in his shoulder.
He then finally holds the broken instrument above his head, advances to the crowd and stands once again soaking it all up to the screams and cheers of the audience. This was a gig they and he won’t forget.
There is only a short break 10:10pm-10:35pm before the finale of the day, just time to collect one final drink and a trip to the urinal. As I’m heading from the stage left, round the back of the Tent, I’m stopped by one of the guards who tells me I can’t come in this way. “I’m already in” I point out, “no I have to stop you, you have to go round the other side” – again I point out that I haven’t walked past her yet. Her colleague also points out that “he hasn’t crossed the line yet” both failing to see the irony of no actual line on the floor, just downtrodden grass. Perhaps they needed some of that vanishing foam they have in Brazil? Anyway, I’ve only stopped because I wanted to make a point, I’m sure once again it’s a crowd control thing, and that somewhere it makes some sense to avoid a crush if people suddenly decide that The Pixies are better than Biffy Clyro (they are) and come streaming that way.
The Pixies walk on stage calmly, without a fuss or baiting intro, and gather in front of the crowd stood together before they take their positions and start into the set with Bone Machine. Black Francis has a calm stage presence, exchanging knowing looks and commands with Santiago. Lovering lasts until about Something Against You before needing a replacement snare, at which point Santiago just infils with some eclectic riffs.
The band continue to storm through a set that only includes two tracks from their latest album, Indie Cindy, but if I wasn’t mistaken they appeared to cut on short, and change direction. However, as the whole set is almost a single continuous track then it’s sometimes hard to work out where one track ends and the other starts. New bassist, Paz Lenchatin fits in perfectly, her voice keeping up with the haunting vocals so loved of Kim Deal.
Santiago also seems to have an issue with one of his pedals at the intro to Rock Music, to which Francis comes to his assistance but it’s unclear whether that was ever resolved or they plowed on regardless like the true professionals they are. Santiago also gives a glancing smile to Paz at one point when his guitar adds a meaty feedback echo that was probably unnoticed by most.
- Bone Machine
- Wave of Mutilation
- Something Against You
- Gouge Away
- Magdalena 318
- Ed Is Dead
- Crackity Jones
- Nimrod’s Son
- Here Comes Your Man
- La La Love You
- Greens and Blues
- River Euphrates
- Isla de Encanta
- Rock Music
- Monkey Gone to Heaven
- Where Is My Mind?
At the end the roof is raised, and once again all four members walk humbly to the front of the stage, showing the utmost respect to their fans. Francis takes the time to stand on both sides of the stage and thank the fans on both sides.
Surely these should have been headlining on the Main Stage, and perhaps that would have been lost on the walking zombies we meet on our way back across the park after midnight… I think I preferred King Tut’s, perhaps this is actually the better venue at T… so long Balado!