T in the Park Sunday line-up | Strathallan Castle | Rating ***
Over on the Radio One Stage, Nathaniel Rateliff and his band of rhythm’n’blues brothers the Night Sweats came not to gently soothe hangovers but to lift the spirits and dance away the rainy day blues with their old school southern soul stomping, testifying zeal and Rateliff’s fleet footwork. There was plenty soft welly shuffling down in the crowd to S.O.B., his chipper ode to not giving a damn.
Following such a tight, intuitive display of rootsy goodness, indie rockers Maximo Park could not help but sound pretty ordinary in comparison. But there are a lot of fans who still hold a candle for their mildly politicised fidgety post-Britpop tunes, and wiry frontman Paul Smith, who can scissor kick with the best of them, never knowingly underperforms.
In strictly musical terms, John Grant had to be one of the highlights of the weekend. It was just a pity there were so few people in the King Tut’s Tent to witness his intoxicating and dynamic blend of volcanic torch song, witty, acerbic storytelling, rich baritone vocals and throbbing yet mournful electro. All this, and the redoubtable Budgie from Siouxsie and the Banshees on drums.
However, it seemed that the kids wanted skiffle and boogie instead and Jake Bugg, a singer whose voice is as nasal as Grant’s is full-bodied, was able to deliver across a diverse set where the stronger moments were the stripped-back tender ballads.
Faithless took the Main Stage back to a time when dance music at festivals was about more than a superstar DJ with a USB stick of their material and an expensive light show. Frontman Maxi Jazz and keyboard queen Sister Bliss were augmented by full live band plus guest vocalists for a 90s rave party which looked and sounded especially sophisticated in comparison with Major Lazer’s attention deficit mix of techno, hip-hop and reggae and inane cheerleading of a delirious crowd at the Radio One Stage. But at least they brought a show with dancers, stagecraft and pyrotechnics, and if that was what it took to keep a T crowd partying on until Red Hot Chili Peppers rounded off proceedings, then so be it.
UK garage comeback star Craig David provided another spin on the live dance music experience by DJing a variety of club favourites old and new (including a couple of his own hits) and singing and rapping along to them flawlessly, like a particularly accomplished karaoke turn.
But all were outfunked by LCD Soundsystem, an electro big band who looked like they hadn’t seen the inside of a nightclub for years but who came over like a latterday Talking Heads, throwing disco, funk, electro and art pop into a more vibrant concoction than the efficient stadium rock turned out by the Chili Peppers on the Main Stage.
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