Brian Ferguson: Time for T in the Park ticking away

ON THE recommendation of a colleague, I could not resist the temptation to check out a list of classic albums turning 20 in 2014.

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty

It is quite a shock to discover the same gap exists between today’s new releases and Blur’s Parklife and Definitely Maybe by Oasis, as there is between those “modern” classics and 1974 best-sellers like David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack.

Even now, 1994 is recalled as a turning point for the British music industry, with the entry of Britpop into the national consciousness. It was also a landmark for live music in Scotland, with its first major music festival since 1979.

It is now pretty difficult to recall a time before the annual rite of passage that T in the Park has become. For many who lapped up those first sun-drenched festivals, it is surreal to think anyone now in their teenage years would not even have been alive during that first event, which both Blur and Oasis graced.

After a forced relocation due to the Lanarkshire site’s redevelopment, it did not take long for T to become re-established at Balado, in Kinross-shire, followed by years of rapid expansion.

But on the eve of its 20th birthday, the event finds itself at a bit of a cross-roads.

Last year’s T, with a capacity of 85,000, was far from a sell-out. In response promoters DF Concerts have secured an extra hour for the arena on the Saturday and are promising two “international headliners” that evening.

But is there a danger of the festival’s launch later this month being overshadowed by questions over its future?

Concerns from the Health and Safety Executive about the risks of the event being staged at the vast airfield site – due to a major oil pipeline running below ground – have ominously returned.

A long-running problem has suddenly escalated after an official report for Perth & Kinross Council – who license the event – revealed a pledge from DF to find a new site to keep the authorities happy.

In fact, an alternative solution is having to be actively pursued for 2015 in order to secure permission for this year’s event.

It is no secret that DF want to stay in Balado – but not at any cost to the scale or quality of the event.

The big question is whether it will be more of a headache to completely uproot T and rewrite the logistical book for staging the event in an untried location – or radically revamp it at its existing home. Neither will be easy.

It is a dilemma that is likely to take time to resolve. But with the first tickets for the 2015 event due to go on sale this July, the clock is ticking over where it will be happening.