FRIDAY night’s warm and sunny start to T in the Park’s final weekend at the Balado site it’s occupied for 18 years gave way to grey skies and heavy drizzle on Saturday afternoon, although not enough that beer-oiled spirits flagged any.
T in the Park 2014 – Saturday
Star rating: * * * *
Among the early bands filling up the three main stages were a selection which accentuated the way T’s bill in recent years has managed to be all things to all people, balancing the demands of various tribes.
Revived punks The Stranglers and the glossily contemporary stage school pop of Katy B sat back to back on the main stage, while Sophie Ellis-Bextor, more renowned of late for her turn on Strictly Come Dancing, demonstrated the versatility of a lengthy career in her short set, from Britpop to disco-house to her new album Wanderlust.
Meanwhile, George Ezra proved to be one of the sleeper hits of the weekend. Just a few weeks ago the 21-year-old from Hertford was playing clubs the size of Edinburgh’s Liquid Room, yet here he packed out the King Tut’s Tent, not undeservedly on the basis of a performance which fused canny pop hooks with a rugged, bluesy tone which belied his years.
Many of those excited fans left the sweatbox atmosphere after hearing his big summer hit Budapest, although they missed the more mature (and appropriately named) Did You Hear the Rain?, which served to paint Ezra as a Home Counties Jack White.
On the main stage, Glasgow’s Twin Atlantic were an emotive choice for many. “This is our hometown festival,” explained Sam McTrusty, his voice peaking with the sense of occasion. “This is the one we stayed up and bought tickets for. Some of you might be in bands and dreaming about playing this place – keep going guys, it happens. It’s mental.”
Their set flitted between churning punk-pop and more expansive rock, and McTrusty’s dedication of Crash Land to the memories accrued on this site was a nice touch.
Flavour of the moment Clean Bandit flattered to deceive across on the Radio 1 stage, meanwhile. Their ability as musicians is beyond question and their stagecraft clearly caught the attention of a large crowd, but there was something about the manner in which they threw together styles which smacked of contrivance.
On the one hand they’re an impressively lively dance music proposition, with some heavy beats freshening up the now-retro sound of UK garage for a contemporary audience, while the pair of excellent female singers to the fore dressed all in white reminded of a golden age of house divas.
Yet the inclusion of strings and interludes lifted from classical music sounded corny, and only their big hit Rather Be truly thrilled the crowd as much as an old-school cover of Robin S’s Show Me Love.