Live Review

T In The Park 2012

This year’s edition of T In The Park is likely to go down in history as the wettest of its 19 years.

This year’s edition of T In The Park is likely to go down in history as the wettest of its 19 years. Unfortunately, the event happened to coincide with one of the most miserable weekends in living memory. This review could quite easily consist of just the word mud repeated ad finitum, as the T site at Balado became a mud quagmire of gargantuan proportions. Some music does take place though, and despite the dreadful conditions, a strange perverse celebratory mood takes hold and the indomitable spirit of those still almost 80,000 hardy souls remaining, ensures the festival astonishingly went off almost without a hitch.

Friday is very much the calm before the impending storm. With the weather remaining dry throughout and the grass relatively green, it could genuinely be described as a nice day. Friday’s line up however, is very much skewed towards contemporary mainstream pop; a running theme over the weekend. There’s a strange vibe this year, with many more interesting or challenging acts marginalised on smaller stages. While Olly Murs, Example and Professor Green commandeer the two main stages before Snow Patrol deliver another functional headline performance, it’s left to the bands on the two outside tents to provide the thrills.

Tribes are first up and are given a hearty reception for their traditional grunge lite indie on the Transmissions stage. Over in the King Tuts tent, Miike Snow are a revelation with house piano and potent beats dominating. The Cribs have played T In The Park three times previously, but never in their natural habitat - a tent. Fresh off releasing their outstanding fifth album, the Jarman brothers are in visceral mood with their set ending in a pleasing howl of feedback and discordant noise. Returning Manchester veterans (no, not those ones) New Order close the night with an astonishing career defining run through of over 30 years of peerless pop.

Saturday is when the deluge comes, forcing DIY to seek refuge wherever possible. Fortunately two of the day’s best bands are on at King Tuts’. Alt-J provide some suitably soothing sounds with their clever take on understated indie, and Blood Red Shoes blow away any early morning cobwebs with a positively blistering punk rock set. As the rain pours incessantly and the mud becomes ever thicker, the crowd are in dire need of a pick up, which for the packed out Transmission stage comes in the form of Django Django. They’re a band of breathless invention and exuberance, and their short set marks them out as potentially the band of the weekend.

It wouldn’t be T In The Park without a healthy smattering of home grown artists; the rapturously received Fatherson on the BBC Introducing stage keep up the quota of excellent new Scottish bands. Another band who has had a triumphant 2012 is The Maccabees. They draw a very large crowd to King Tuts and you wonder why they have not progressed onto headliner status already. Playing with an assured confidence, they deliver a set rich with immersive guitar music of the finest form

Many words have already been expunged on The Stone Roses following their comeback Heaton Park shows. As such, their headlining set on Saturday feels like a slight afterthought with not quite the same level of anticipation. As John Squire’s swirling guitar ushers in opener ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, there is a palpable sense of something in the air; however, this excitement quickly dissipates and their set is oddly flat despite the excellent musicianship of the band.

Sunday’s festivities are largely found on the Transmission Stage as three new bands at different stages of their career make their T debuts. Zulu Winter are competent without ever really taking off, but Howler by contrast are a whole lot of fun. Striding onstage swigging from a bottle of Buckfast, Jordan Gatesmith is an engaging frontman and their set of riotous rock n roll provides the day’s first thrills. The next band to grace the Transmissions stage have not yet released their debut album but you sense that when they do they will not be playing stages as small as this again. Spector are easily derided, but you can see why they are on the cusp of mainstream success. The devotion in the audience of largely teenage girls is striking and there are sing-alongs aplenty. Frontman Fred McPherson is an affable showman always ready with a wry quip. Of course, all this posturing and joking would mean nothing if they didn’t have the songs to back it up: fortunately, Spector have nuggets of guitar pop perfection in spades.

As the final night draws on and spirits begin to flag the crowd are given a welcome lift by worshiping at the church of Guy Garvey on the mainstage. Elbow are consummate festival performers and they have the crowd in the palm of their hands culminating in a massive communal sing-along to ‘One Day Like This.’ Later, Kasabian do their reliably proficient festival show on the main stage, but for more discerning punters The Horrors are a more challenging proposition closing the Transmission Stage. Despite the relatively small crowd, they play a mind-blowing set with even Faris Badwan showing some exuberance. A truly rare site.

As everyone resolutely tries to navigate their way through the quicksand-like mud and the fireworks go off overhead, there is a quiet satisfaction and sense of pride among the survivors who have made it to the end of a festival blighted by terrible weather, but enlivened by some splashes of colour amidst the gloom.

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