AFTER a couple of consecutive years of miserable weather at T In The Park, there was sunshine on Balado at last and what better opening act to capitalise on this than The Proclaimers, a band who can be said to encapsulate the jolly, big-hearted nature of T in its 20th year.
The Reid brothers kicked off proceedings in suitably lusty style with the likes of I’m On My Way, Letter From America – introduced as a “song older than most of you” – and the pro-independence Cap In Hand. Where’s Big Eck with his saltire-waving when you need him?
LA sister act Haim were trickier to get a handle on during a brief set on the Radio 1 Stage which involved firing out punchy, rhythmic pop chants, garnished with Eighties synths, and then going to town on Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well.
Around the same time, American college punks Fidlar were delivering a succession of short sharp melodic shocks over in the Transmissions Tent, generating a good-natured puppyish moshpit in the process.
Despite showing up at every prestigious national event going over the past year, Emeli Sande does not seem to be a natural choice of festival act. Her set was as slick as you like – if you like slick – and the less overwrought moments washed down easily enough in the early evening sun.
But credit to a very comfortable-looking Sande for communicating an infectious enthusiasm for what is now an over-familiar set of material.
Jake Bugg, on the other hand, should be just the T ticket. The teenage troubadour is still a fairly diffident performer, even in front of a field full of folks hollering his earworm tunes back at him, but he could afford to let the music do the talking, from the skiffly Trouble Town to the aptly named lovely folky strum of Simple As This. Half an hour in, he even cracked a grateful smile.
In his day job as frontman of The Coral, James Skelly has long demonstrated a similar talent for a beguiling melody. His current outfit, James Skelly and the Intenders, proved to be no less handy in that department, but with added rhythm’n’blues swagger, and even a couple of Coral diamonds to boot. Shame most of his potential audience were still watching Jake Bugg.
And so to the big guns: Mumfords versus Calvin Harris versus Kraftwerk. Although the latter are no strangers to European festival line-ups, this felt like a coup for T In The Park. Practically every act in the Slam Tent this weekend could claim descent from their ground-breaking electronica and for four middle-aged Germans standing stock still at consoles – indeed, by any standards – they put on a dazzling audio-visual show, this one with hypnotic 3D bells on (glasses supplied), in which every track was an acknowledged classic.
Mumford and Sons may have been the popular choice on the Main Stage but it really will be hard for anyone to top these Teutonic titans and their robot chums over the next couple of days.
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