TRNSMT Friday, Glasgow Green ***
After a year off for public health, TRNSMT returned to Glasgow Green with an almost unsettling continuity – everything from site layout to atmosphere to line-up felt familiar and was gobbled up by the predominantly teen and twentysomething audience faced by a stark choice: whether to bounce along to grime star AJ Tracey on the Main Stage or head over to the King Tut’s Stage where generic indie four-piece The Lathums were peddling a sound that was already stale 30 years ago.
Dublin outfit Inhaler were promoted to a later Main Stage slot because of positive Covid tests in The Snuts camp. Frontman Elijah Hewson comes from top rock stock, and is his father Bono’s image. But he has yet to master the galvanising of the festival crowd. The marginally more experienced Blossoms exhibited greater polish but even less in the way of distinguishing features.
If inoffensive indie rock was not your tribe, there was pleasant respite among the smaller but enthusiastic crowds at the King Tut's Stage taking in singer-songwriter Griff’s manicured electro pop, Joy Crookes’ jazzy soul pop in the post-Amy Winehouse mould and charismatic rapper Little Simz, who easily outshone all her fellow Friday performers with her natural charisma, compelling flow and mighty backing band.
Meanwhile, down by the Clyde there was a corner of the site that was proudly freaky, with the River Stage hosting the flamboyant electro poperatics of Walt Disco and booming 80s-inspired pop rock of The Ninth Wave, and the Boogie Bar functioning as an outdoors Slam Tent for the ravers.
As daylight faded and the fancier lightshows were cranked up, Sam Fender impressed as much as a one-man Killers with moderate guitar heroics, braying vocals and 80s saxophone embellishment could – certainly more than uninspiring headliners The Courteeners, whose conventional indie appeal did not extend to the margins of the crowd. Fiona Shepherd
TRNSMT Saturday, Glasgow Green ****
Primal Scream, second-billed at Saturday’s TRNSMT, are one of those bands whose live appeal hasn’t biodegraded in the past 20 years, let alone the 18 months everything has been shut down.
With only an hour to play, their set was boiled down to just the hits: a celebratory opening of Movin’ On Up; the righteous electro-cataclysm of Swastika Eyes, while the crowd bellowed a Bobby Gillespie-instigated chorus of “Here we f****in’ go”; a bleary-eyed Higher Than the Sun fusing with The Doors’ The End; the ocean blue-suited Gillespie offering a dedication “for Steve Clarke and the Scotland football team... Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney” before the joyous Come Together and Loaded.
The Scream offered all you could want from a big stage rock show, although a sizeable audience contingent – enough to pack the King Tut’s Stage arena so fully that it had to be closed – was the none-more-different Brit pop star Becky Hill; her opening, Netsky-assisted drum ‘n’ bass anthem Hold On was the perfect post-lockdown anthem.
Elsewhere, fans had enjoyed returning hometown rockers Twin Atlantic and the warm if blandly upbeat Keane, while Hill was preceded by another local boy, Declan Walsh and his band the Decadent West. They have that raw, resurgent working-class troubadour style and his introduction of Times as “about togetherness, friendship… about being with other people and realising that we all need each other” hit the mood of the times beautifully.
Finally, with all the unfussy ceremony we’d expect, a mightily-hirsute Liam Gallagher delivered the acme set of the modern British music festival, with a selection of his own material bracing a list of Oasis’ greatest hits (the band’s original guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs is now in his band).
He began with the appropriate Hello, revisited Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Cigarettes and Alcohol, dedicated Live Forever to “the 9/11” and ended with “the mighty Wonderwall” (his description).
The euphoric, multi-generational familiarity of it all was just what the overjoyed crowd seemed to need. David Pollock
TRNSMT Sunday, Glasgow Green ***
Day three of TRNSMT and the festival atmosphere was as lightly breezy as the weather – and Amy Macdonald's music, which was suitably undemanding MOR singer-songwriter fare for a relaxing afternoon but with enough propulsive energy for those with excitability to burn.
Her early hit This is the Life chimed most strongly with the crowd but she earned her biggest cheer for her assertion that girls belong on festival stages.
Macdonald reminisced about T In The Park in the mid-2000s; Ash's indie power pop harked back to the grungey nineties yet retained a teen sheen, from the feral fun of Kung Fu to summer lust anthem Oh Yeah. "We're not here for a long time," said frontman Tim Wheeler, "but we're here for a good time."
Male angst sounded a lot more painful in the forced rasping voice of chart topping troubadour Dermot Kennedy, whose earnest chest-beating sounded like Lewis Capaldi without the leavening wisecracks.
Over on the bijou River Stage, the infectious Rhiann Downey had hollered herself hoarse by the time she rolled out her crowd-pleasing cover of Caledonia.
Her fellow Scots crooner Joesef is a much smoother operator with a natural low-slung soul pop style, suited to his light-touch cover of Sister Sledge classic Thinking of You as much as his own songs of romantic yearning. So subtle was his style that he occasionally had to battle the blunt instrument of the Snow Patrol set overlapping on the Main Stage, which was a dependable mix of cathartic pop rock anthems and wallowing ballads.
Tom Odell pounded his piano mercilessly at a packed out King Tut's Stage but it was the Chemical Brothers' pounding electro son et lumiere extravaganza which was set to deliver the climactic high of the weekend. Fiona Shepherd
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