“THIS is the festival we all grew up with,” exclaimed Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry from the stage of the King Tut’s Wah Wah Tent, midway through an evening so temperate that dozens of her band’s fans were still sunbathing on the grass by the entrance to the tent.
Haim, Chvrches, Ellie Goulding, Manic Street Preachers, Ed Sheeran and more
T in the Park, Balado
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The air of poignancy was unmistakeable, and not unintended. After the best part of two decades T in the Park is moving to another site next year, and “end of an era” notes were being struck all over. The LED screen delivering safety messages at the entrance to the site proudly indicated that we were about to experience ‘Balado’s last stand”.
Let’s not be mistaken that the first night proper of this final Balado edition (not counting Thursday’s campers-only Slam Tent session) was a tear-strewn nostalgia fest, though. The usual attitude of sunburnt Dunkirk spirit was in effect throughout an opening day’s bill which started earlier than ever. Pleasingly , this involved a sizeable contingent of female performers, a pendulum which has been swinging ever further in recent years, including young English electro-pop diva Foxes, sun-kissed and Fleetwood Mac-channelling Californian sorority Haim and Ellie Goulding. In hot pants and summer shirt, the latter was indistinguishable from the young women in her crowd, although even her bigger hits like Starry-Eyed were chirpy but forgettable on the expanse of the main stage.
In this sense Goulding wasn’t dissimilar to Ed Sheeran, who took to the stage alone after her with the confidence of a songwriter whose recent album X has continued his wild success, albeit in the pleasant enough medium of hip-hop influenced gap year singer-songwriting. While the EDM-heavy line-up of the NME Stage (including DJ Fresh and Alessi) boomed in the distance, the Manic Street Preachers proved to be an enduringly fiery live proposition on the Tut’s stage. “Remember Britpop?” snarked singer James Dean Bradfield before one of the songs which helped define the mid-90s, Everything Must Go. “We weren’t part of it. We were on the outside.” Politically that’s true, although sonically it’s a slice of revisionism he can afford with a new album which sounds so unlike anything they’ve done before, even though the impressive likes of Let’s Go to War and Futurology didn’t gather as many cheers as If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next. Still , as the crowd awaited Biffy Clyro’s headline set, the Manics and Chvrches provided the strongest emotional rushes. “I applied for T-Break five times and never got in,” laughed Mayberry earlier, “so be tenacious. Be strong.” Sound advice for the weekend ahead.