A Sunny Start to T in the Park’s 20th Year Celebrations
The mercury was rising. The flags were flying. The anticipation was mounting. And on the green, green, grass of Balado, the party was just about to begin…
Late Friday afternoon, and T in the Park 2013 got off to a roaring start courtesy of the sky-high main attraction: the sun. The 20th T in the Park was blessed with an appropriately golden kick-off as the weather, elements and the festival-gods were all on the event’s side. In this glorious post-Wimbledon summer, let’s call it the Andy Murray Feelgood Factor: Scotland has lift-off. Wha’s like us? Nobody.
And fittingly on the opening day of the 20th year of T in the Park, it was the homegrown artists who did all the running. Launching proceedings on the Main Stage were The Proclaimers, local lads and local legends come good. When the twins began to play their classic national anthem, 1987 single Letter From America, it was the first time this weekend – and certainly not the last – that the huge TITP singalong masses took the roof off. Quite a feat in a field.
The brothers Reid are on a high in this, the year of both a 25th anniversary greatest hits and the autumn release of the film-of-the-play-of-the-album Sunshine On Leith. The classic songs – Sunshine On Leith itself, I’m On My Way, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – provided an appropriately rousing and feel good overture to the 20th T in the Park since the event’s launch in 1994.
Backstage in the artists’ area, returning favourites Everything Everything (their third TITP) and The Courteneers (their fifth) were busy telling anyone who’d listen how special the T in the Park fans are. TITP virgins were also giddily on-message: Californian sister-trio newcomers Haim and Las Vegas insurgents Imagine Dragons were raving about how the legend of TITP had made it all the way to America’s west coast.
Out again on the Main Stage another Scottish sensation had the crowd going merrily doolally. Emeli Sandé, Britain’s runaway music success story of the last 18 months, was in energetic form as she made her second T appearance. Next To Me, My Kind Of Love, Professor Green collaboration Read All About It (a Number One smash), Labrinth collaboration Beneath Your Beautiful (another Number One smash) and Naughty Boy collaboration Wonder had the crowd in raptures. A fantastic, party-hearty, we-know-all-the-words experience all round for star and fans alike.
Into the evening, Chase & Status brought the thunderous drum’n’bass’n’pop, Kraftwerk coolly filled the “legends” slot (in 3D no less), Mumford & Sons continued their summer run of mega-shows with a dance-inducing folk’n’roll set, and on the Radio 1 stage, Dumfries-born Calvin Harris threw everything he had at the rabid crowd: smoke machines, confetti cannon, pyrotechnics, and hit after hit after hit.
Perched atop a Starship Enterprise flight deck-style DJ booth, the chart-bothering smash-machine pumped out Big Tune followed by Big Tune. “Whoomp! There it is!” chanted the dance-mad crowds. “Here we… here we… here we rocking go!” they yelled (with added swearing). A full-on, full-frontal, full-force electro-pop set to bring the house down on the opening day of T in the Park 2013. Things couldn’t get much better…
SOME MORE BACKSTAGE CHATS FROM FRIDAY AT T IN THE PARK
“Before I came to T, I knew that the crowd is meant to be completely mental, so I’m excited about that. I was meant to play here last year, and I was gutted that I couldn’t – my mum died and I had a load of stuff going on, so I couldn’t do it. But I watched Snow Patrol do the most amazing set on TV, and the sun was going down, and I thought: I’m meant to be there. And I will be there. And here I am.
“We just got here so I haven’t actually seen anything yet. But we’re gonna kick around for a bit, and tomorrow, and so hopefully see lots of things. I want to see Jake Bugg and Mumford & Sons. And backstage is great – it’s pretty posh, and I had a pretty yummy lunch just now. I might get my hair done, but I’m pretty grimy. What else can I do back there?”
You can play Jake Bugg at table-tennis, but he’ll kick your butt.
“Will he kick my butt? I’m pretty good – and my excuse for being good is the same as his: a lot skiving in the common room at school. I reckon I could take him on. Message to Jake: I can do a lot of spin!”
What were you doing in 1994?
“I was nine years old, and not listening at school. I was wearing a lot of Timberlands and oversized shirts, looking like a nine-year-old boy. I was into Spice Girls and Oasis – in fact, Wannabe was the first record I bought, plus I wanted to sing like Liam, with the whole leaning my body in.”
“But it’s good to be here – George Ibbetson, who works in the backstage area and works for [festival organisers] DF Concerts – he introduced me to a lot of the people that I ended up writing with on my record, and producers. My publishers are Snow Patrol, who I met with him. I was at a Coldplay gig but my tickets got messed up and George took me under his wing, got me into the Coldplay box, got me an agent, and I met [Snow Patrol/Jake Bugg writer] Iain Archer in that box, and he’s a co-writer on the album. So I owe T a lot! Can I be queen of the festival?”
Liam Fray (vocals): “This is our fifth time at T – I’m only 28! I feel like an honorary Scotsman. The first one, 2008, was one of my favourites. I wore a cracking parka. Alongside Glastonbury that year, it was the first time we were like, ‘f*cking hell, there’s quite a lot of people out there…’ So you could say we came through on that stage.
“So we’ve got rally fond memories of T, it’s always amazing. You kinda go on that stage going, ‘this is gonna be f*cking class’ – it’s enjoyable. As they should be. Some things like Glastonbury, there’s a lot more nerves sometimes ‘cause you put it on pedestal if you like. I don’t know whether that’s right or not. But from the artists I speak to, a lot of people enjoy T in the Park a lot more than other festivals.
“And you know what? After we come off, first thing I’m gonna do: get me haircut in the artists’ area.”
What were you doing in 1994?
“I was nine and I was entering my second year as a Manchester United fan. I had a really nice childhood – I wish I could say it was sh*tty, but it was cool, man. I had top friends, and we played football till it went dark. It was cool, we just played football and listened to records. The first record I got was the next year: Oasis’s Wonderwall.”
Are you hanging about tonight?
“Yeah, we’re gonna stay around, party – I’ll probably get onstage with Mumford & Sons and strip naked…”