THE figurehead of Scotland’s biggest music festival has urged the event’s army of followers: “Give us a second chance.”
T in the Park director Geoff Ellis issued the plea as he unveiled a line-up he hopes will lure back thousands of revellers following its troubled debut at a new site in Perthshire.
Mr Ellis, who believes he has “nailed” one of the most eclectic line-ups in the event’s history, insisted there has been “absolutely no doubt” in his mind about taking the event back to the Strathallan Estate this year.
The chief executive of promoters DF Concerts said he was convinced the festival could fix a host of issues which marred last year’s event, including, traffic chaos, serious crowd congestion and security problems.
Senior officials at Perth and Kinross Council have warned they will not allow T in the Park to be staged at Strathallan unless there is a total overhaul of the event.
Mr Ellis revealed there would be a 25 per cent increase in the size of the main arena and a boost of almost 30 per cent to the site of the campsite in a bid to ease curb problems this July, although the daily capacity will still be 85,000.
Scotland’s superstar DJ Calvin Harris, American rock icons Red Hot Chili Peppers and reunited electronica stars LCD Soundsystem are among the big-name acts confirmed for the festival’s 23rd year, joining The Stone Roses, the first headliners to be confirmed in November.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers will be returning a decade on from their only previous appearance, while Calvin Harris will be headlining for the second time in three years.
Brit Awards winners James Bay, who was named best British male solo artist, and the best newcomers, Welsh indie rock outfit Catfish and the Bottlemen, will also be appearing at the three-day.
Mr Ellis said: “There was no doubt whatsoever in my mind that T in the Park would be back.
“We’ve already said it wasn’t our finest hour last year in terms of delivery. We know that not everything worked as well as it could have done and has done in the past.
“But I knew we could fix those things and improve the experience for the customer. That’s why I didn’t have any doubt about it.
“I don’t mean that to sound blasé. We’ve got to satisfy the council and the other authorities. We’ve put in a redesigned site plan, which includes a 25 per cent bigger main arena and a campsite nearly 30 per cent bigger. We’ll have a big improvement in the traffic management plan, with a dedicated bus station, separating cars and buses completely.
“All of these things will deliver on our promises, but also on the expectations of the authorities and, most importantly, the expectations of our customers. I know we can deliver and that it can work. We’re excited about it because we know we can get it right this year.
“I would say to people: ‘Give us a second chance.’ I think they will do. People feel very strongly and passionately about the event. They want it to work.
“I’d like to think people have a bit of faith and trust in us. We’ve been doing this for 23 years. We usually get it completely right.
“I’d say to people: ‘Give it another go.’ It’s a good site at Strathallan, it will work really well and will be the long term home for T in the Park. I can absolutely see it staying there.”
Among the other previous T favourites returning will be the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, the Kaiser Chiefs, Tinie Tempah, Faithless and Shed Seven, while legendary Belfast punk band Stiff Little Fingers will make their debut at the event.
Scottish festival stars Travis, who will have performed at all three T venues, and Frightened Rabbit will be appearing, while singer-songwriters in the line-up include US favourite John Grant and British stars Jess Glynne, Jake Bugg and James Morrison.
Mr Ellis said there had been an increasing number of dance music acts and DJs securing headline slots at the event, but insisted this was down to their increasing popularity, rather than trying to attract a different audience to the event.
He added: “I’m particularly proud of the diversity that we’ve delivered with this line-up.
“We’ve not tried to reinvent the festival this year, but I think we’ve nailed the line-up more than we’ve done in the best.
“We’ve definitely not tried to make a big change, but I think we’ve delivered better on what we try to do every year. The line-up is more eclectic and balanced.
“We’ve always had electronic acts and DJs playing the festival. What has changed is that they are bigger now than they were before.
“It was new for us to have acts like Calvin Harris and Avicii closing the main stage. That’s not just been a change for T in the Park, it’s been the case for other festivals as well.
“It’s about getting the right balance, so that if you don’t want to see a DJ you don’t have to, but plenty of people to.
“In our audience polls, Calvin Harris definitely tops them, but we’d be wrong just to go down the electronic music route, because it’s not what everybody wants to see, and we accept that.
“We’ve always had electronica, dance music and pop at T in the Park. It has always been at the heart of the festival and we’ve got a really good balance of it this year.”
Mr Ellis apologised in October for the handling of last year’s festival, when he pledged that lessons would be learned from an “intense debrief.”
The festival, which is said to be worth £15 million to the local economy, was inundated with hundreds of complaints over traffic chaos, the festival’s shuttle bus services, levels of congestion inside the arena and poor security at the campsite.
Lengthy queues were reported getting to and from the new festival site, as well as entering the main arena, while there were complaints that festival-goers were left waiting in the dark for hours to get picked up.
Two former police officers Colin Brown and Ian Martin, who have both worked at T in the Park in previous years, have been brought in as troubleshooters to take charge of security and traffic management arrangements when the event returns this summer.
Tickets, which are being held at the same price for the fourth year running, are on sale now.
FULL T IN THE PARK LINE-UP CONFIRMED SO FAR
FRIDAY 8 JULY: The Stone Roses, Disclosure, Courteeners, Jamie xx, James Morrison, Frightened Rabbit, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Bear’s Den, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Krept & Konan, The Coral, The Temperance Movement, Oh Wonder
SATURDAY 9 JULY: Calvin Harris, Bastille, The 1975, The Last Shadow Puppets, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Jess Glynne, Kaiser Chiefs, Travis, Tinie Tempah, Tom Odell, Stiff Little Fingers, Shed Seven, Disciples, Rat Boy, Maxi Jazz & The E-Type Boys
SUNDAY 10 JULY: Red Hot Chili Peppers, LCD Soundsystem, Faithless, Major Lazer, James Bay, Jake Bugg, Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls, Craig David’s TS5, Maximo Park, John Grant, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats, FIDLAR, Blossoms