Rihanna Rocks Balado as T in the Park’s Celebrations Continue
The View thought this was their seventh T in the Park. Or was it their eighth? They grew up with the festival (which they describe as happening in their “backyard”), and actually grew up at the festival, steadily progressing up the stages, so multiple appearances are perhaps to be expected.
The Script, meanwhile, were pretty sure this was their fourth. Frightened Rabbit? One of Scotland’s biggest groups internationally, yet 2013 presented the Borders band with only their third appearance at Balado. And Deacon Blue? Surely one of Scotland’s classic combos, late Eighties/early Nineties giants, must be serial TITP stars? No. “We’ve never actually played T in the Park before,” said frontman Ricky Ross. Why’s that then? “When it started in ’94, we’d just split up.” Ah.
No matter: day #2 of T in the Park 2013 dawned bright, sunny and with pure Deacon Blue skies. Taking to the Main Stage in a prime mid-afternoon slot, Ross and co were an instant hit. Wages Day, Fergus Sings The Blues, Real Gone Kid – vintage Scotpop delivered with thoroughly right now vigour. Once again the Balado audience embraced the opportunity to sing along with a brace of national anthems. And when the reformed Glasgow outfit closed with an emotional tilt at Dignity, the sun-kissed festival site finally experienced a tiny bit of a downpour – a smattering of tears behind many a pair of sunglasses…
Nina Nesbitt was welling up too. She celebrated her 19th birthday two days ago, meaning she is actually and properly a child of T in the Park, having been born at exactly the same time as the festival was birthed in 1994. And, having made her T debut last year, the Edinburgh native was back in 2013 – only this time backed by a band and buoyed by a year of steadily increasing records sales and radio airplay.
She was a hit in the King Tut’s Tent, and a couple of hours later she was a hit all over again on the Transmissions Stage when she joined fast-rising Irish rockers Kodaline for a set-closing duet. But this wasn’t any old random hook-up: Nesbitt came onstage with a birthday cake for T in the Park, while frontman Steve Garrigan led the packed tent in a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. Then Nesbitt lent her sweet vocals to a brilliant, uplifting of the band’s anthem All I Want.
As dusk fell, the TITP Saturday night party started in earnest. Snoop Dogg and Dizzee Rascal brought bouncy fun, Travis cemented their status as perhaps the festival’s favourite sons (how many appearances now, lads? Ten?), and Liam Gallagher – a founding TITP star courtesy of Oasis’s appearance at the very first festival – led Beady Eye out for a rambunctious set headlining the Radio 1 stage.
But the Main Stage was where the glamazon action was taking place. Flanked by phalanxes of baseball-capped dancers, Rihanna rocked up to T in the Park with a sassy smile, a booty shake and – beginning with the thrusting Phresh Out The Runway – a belting selection of world-beating smash hits and club bangers.
The disco-diva was clearly overwhelmed by the response from the Balado masses, repeatedly thanking Scotland for giving the only girl in the world the best response in the world. As a beaming and waving Rihanna left the stage, and the last notes of Diamonds faded into the night sky, they were joined by a burst of celebratory fireworks. Shine bright like a T-star.
BACKSTAGE CHATS FROM DAY 2 OF T IN THE PARK
Danny O’Donoghue (vocals): “We think this is our fourth T. The first one we played in the new band’s tent, and we were very nervous and quite shy and not sure about how to do a gig like that inside a tent at a festival. And it went really well – the Scottish crowd were amazing and really got behind us and gave us a good old vibe. So today’s gonna be very spectacular for us, to go from something so small to something so big. It’s a real big jump for us.
Glen Power (drums): “You can’t rest on your laurels when it comes to festivals – everybody did not buy tickets to just see The Script. They came to see all the other bands, and of course we’re on just before Rihanna as well, so prime pickings… So we’re gonna be very nervous going on. But at the end of the day, the Scottish audience seems to connect with us and has done every pervious time.”
Danny, your Voice protégé Bo Bruce was playing here yesterday, and she was champing at the bit to play… Is it good for brand new artists to play festivals a big as this?
“Yeah, it tests your mettle, it tests your balls. If you have a bad experience onstage at one of these festivals, it can really dampen your spirits. Do you want to do this again? Because it’s not just your fans, it’s other people’s fans, all the other bands that are there – the ones you like, the ones you might have seen yourself at a festival as a kid, they’re all there. But for me, if you get the bite, and you get hooked on it, it’s the best thing in the world. ‘Cause all you start thinking about is: how am I gonna do better?”
Where were you in 1994?
Danny: “I was at the Trip To Tip festival in Tipperary. I would have been 12. Did that every year for four years. Bryan Adams was on, Extreme were on. Met both acts – Nuno Bettancourt, Extreme’s guitarist, gave me his pick, and the T-shirt off his back, and signed it. And he’s here tonight, playing with Rihanna. I want to shake his hand, and give him a pick.”
Scott Hutchison (vocals): “This is our third T in the Park, which actually for a band that’s been going as long as us is not that many. And they’ve always been wee benchmark moments actually, today included. The first time in particular, we didn’t really have much of a gauge on the whole of Scotland, how many people were into Frightened Rabbit – and it was one of those things like, holy shit, not only are all these people here, they know all the words. And that was a real eye-opener for us. And the same again next time. And it’s only just improved each time. So T is a really good barometer for how your country likes you.”
It does have stepping stone stages – you can mark your progress…
“It’s great, and that’s the thing – it’s quite unique in that sense. Our first gig was on the T Break Stage, moved up to King Tut’s and now on the second stage. And that is a real marker for us.
“I mean, T was the first festival I ever went to as a punter, when The Charlatans headlined, it was maybe ’98 – so I have this feeling: I used to be there, in the audience, and now I’m here, on a stage… So it’s a very different feeling to other festivals, ‘cause I have memories of both sides of the fence here.
“And when you tour abroad a lot, it does feel like home. It’s totally different to Glastonbury – it’s special, and I’m sure Reading and Leeds are the same. But here you just have that exhalation of breath: everything’s going to be fine.”
What were you doing in 1994?
“I was 13, I was just getting into Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. I was diligently learning the guitar at high school, and trying to be better than my elder brother! I think I am now, finally… He’s an accountant. So, back then I had not been to a live show – but then I went to see Smashing Pumpkins on the Melon Collie tour at the SECC…”
Pete Reilly (guitar): “This is our seventh or eighth T playing as a band, and just coming – I’m not sure, I can’t put a figure on it. But it’s probably about 12 or 13. I’m waiting on my anniversary watch from the organisers.
“Then me and Kyle first came to T we were on the TV jumping about like idiots to Oasis. We were just on that BBC documentary about T, and they circled us and said, ‘five years later, who’d have thought these guys would be headlining the King Tut’s tent…’ So we’ve got a good history with T – it’s in our backyard isn’t it? It’s just down the road for us.
“Our first gig here was on the T Break Stage and it was just when the first album was coming out, and it was just rammed, crazy. But it’s always been crazy for us here. Then the year after we headlined King Tut’s – that’s how quickly things kicked off for us. Then we did the Main Stage a couple of times – but all the Ts have kinda run into for me. It’s just one big blurry red T. But they’re all good.
“We never in our wildest dreams would imagine we’d ever play at T in the Park. But here we are, waiting on our presentation watches. Biffy Clyro and Travis are a couple of slots ahead of us but we’ve got years on them!”
NOAH & THE WHALE
Charlie Fink (vocals): “In 1994 I was eight years old, and I would have been watching the Mexico World Cup.”
“T in the Park last year was honestly one of the best festivals we did. It was a few months after the third record came out, and we were playing quite a small tent. And it just kicked off, it was great. Also, being inside on a wet day was a bonus. The crowd we had was pretty exceptional, just really going for it. But T in the Park is a great mix of bands – pop acts but also alternative bands. A band like us, it’s not often we’d be on the same bill as Rihanna, so it’s great to get the opportunity to go and check her out.
“And it’s really social backstage. If we could collaborate with anyone here, Snoop Dogg is the obvious choice. Snoop Whale – I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already.”
Ricky Ross (vocals): “It was fantastic today – the crowd were lovely, they were really lovely.
“We’ve never actually played T in the Park before. When it started it was towards the band’s life together. We obviously knew the organisers, but we actually finished in 1994 – we’d just split up. And I seem to remember coming to the festival. We saw Del Amitri and Primal Scream. And it was either that year or the next that I saw Beck in a tent – he went on really late but they were brilliant. And I just went, ‘oh, wow, that’s good.’ A real showbiz show…”
“So it felt really nice to be out there on the Main Stage today. We’d always kinda wondered, what’s the point of playing T in the Park, they won’t know our stuff…’ And that’s actually a really good point. And the last thing you want is for the whole thing to be a bit of a disappointment for them and for us. So the offer to play has come up a couple of times, and I was always like, I’m not sure…’
“Then actually what happened was about three or four years ago, Lorraine and I’s oldest daughter wanted to come with her cousins. So my brother-in-law and I brought them. And it was the time when Brian Wilson was playing, so we said, we’ll drop the girls off, then we’ll go and see Brian Wilson, Rufus Wainwright, and I saw Albert Hammond from The Strokes. So it was really nice. But actually, all these kids were coming up to me going, can we have a photograph together?!’
“So I came back and said to Lorraine, ‘you know, it’s really funny, but I wasn’t like the embarrassing dad there – it was OK!’”
“But I think the culture of music has changed. When we grew up, to be into music you had to define what you didn’t like. You were always in camps. But I think probably girls are really good at this – I’ve got three daughters, and a son, and they’re all good at being across camps and not bothering about all that stuff. And I think that’s filtered into the atmosphere of these festivals.”
“I’ve always been slightly of the view that I don’t like festivals. My default position is I like a hall with walls! Just for sonic reasons – like the PA system in a hall. You know, I’m old! That’s my generation, and in my day, festivals were crap – they were always badly organised, bouncers annoying you. And T shows how much that has changed.
“And you’ve got to adapt. One of the saddest things is people who grow old and don’t learn anything. So for me it’s like, OK, this festival is good, let’s go with it.
“And it’s great T in the Park has things like the T Break Stage – opportunities like that are really important for new artists. It gives them a chance to do it. And when you’ve got a company like DF who have King Tut’s, it’s important to see the chain of events. And in our day, Tut’s wasn’t there either. Stuart Clumpas used to always say that he opened Tut’s on the money he made from Deacon Blue and the likes of us.
“And that makes me really pleased – I go to Tut’s and see bands; I interviewed Alabama Shakes there myself for the radio show I do That is a brilliant change – you’ve got the whole thing, the whole chain, from club venue to festival.”
Andy Brown (vocals): “Last year at T in the Park was amazing for us. We played the T Break Stage, and now we’re on the outdoor Radio 1 stage. It’s a big compliment from the bookers of T in the Park.
Ryan Fletcher (bass): “It was awesome here last year. We filled out the tent last year – it wasn’t a massive tent but at the time in our career that was brilliant.
What were you doing in 1994?
Adam Pitts (drums): “I was four, and I was playing a Mickey Mouse drumkit really badly. And also I think I was playing with a trainset still. I was quite a chatty, cheeky four-year-old.”
Joel Peat (guitars): “I was four as well, and I was probably into Batman and Spider-Man. I definitely wasn’t playing guitar!”
Andy: “I was seven and I was about to start playing guitar. But I was well into footie, big Liverpool FC fan, so I was going down the game every week with my dad. And I remember that year actually cause I had a compilation CD, Dance Tip ’94, and it had Scatman and all that stuff on it. So that year does always stick out for me. And it had Everything But The Girl’s Missing as well, which we just covered for YouTube. It was a big year!”
“This is my first T in the Park and all I knew was that it was in Scotland. But I think knowing nothing was cool – it meant I had no expectations so I really enjoyed it today. And the crowd were so lovely. I was really scared that no one was gonna come see it, but there were loadsa people there. And they were singing along! It was amazing.
“You don’t expect to be looked after so well. It’s lovely. The catering is phenomenal, and I’ve already had my hair done. I asked for an organised mess, and they sorted me out!”
What are you doing later?
“I’m gonna watch Kodaline, and I’m gonna catch a little bit of Snoop before I go. He is a legend – and because of him I got an upgrade on an Air New Zealand flight. I watched him on Graham Norton, talking about how he endorses them, saying, ‘well, I fly the friendly skies…’ And I tweeted them, saying I was gonna fly the friendly skies… and they were like, you can have an upgrade. So, thanks Snoop Dogg!”
Steve Garrigan (vocals): “We’ve just done a little acoustic gig out in the campsite. We were a bit scared at first – we didn’t know if people were gonna go crazy or people were gonna throw stuff at us. But it was great – it feels like Spain out there with this weather. And it went down really well, we got a big crowd, and it was all good vibes. It was cool, man – it was an experience.”
You’re going to sing Happy Birthday to T in the Park from the stage tonight, with a little help from Nina Nesbitt. How’d that idea come about?
“Just ‘cause we’re good friends with Nina, and she’s Scottish. And I genuinely believe Scottish and Irish people have this instant connection. And you’ve got to embrace the festival and embrace the culture and history of the festival. I’ve never been to T before, but I’ve watched it in one or form or other over the years. It’s a sister festival of one in Ireland, Oxegen, so we used to get the same line-up. But it’s got a great history – The Killers, for example, say that it’s their favourite place to play. So we’re really looking forward to playing…”
What were you doing in 1994?
“I was six and I was probably playing with an Action Man and building a little Lego vehicle. No, I was having a Guinness. I’m Irish!
Josh McClorey (guitars): “It was really good today – great vibe in the tent, and the crowd reaction was really good, and we had a lot of fun. We didn’t really know what to expect ’cause we’ve never done T in the Park before, but we’d seen a lot of videos of bands we like playing there. We were expecting a good vibe but we weren’t expecting good weather.”
Evan Walsh (drums): “We’ve never been here before, but we played King Tut’s – in fact the b-side to our single that’s out now were recorded live at King Tut’s.”
“I played T in the Park for the first time last year and the crowd was insane. It was very full in the tent, and everyone down the front knew the words, and it was just me and a guitar. But this year I’ve got my band with me and hopefully more people will recognise the songs from the radio. But it’s brilliant ‘cause my fans are really dedicated.
“I never came to T in the Park before I was a singer, and then I ended up playing the Introducing Stage, so that was fun. All my friends were there, and they’re here again this year. But T last year definitely felt like a turning point for me. I got a lot of exposure from off it. It’s a really good platform to grow from.”
What were you doing in 1994?
“Being born! So I’d have been breastfeeding and wearing a nappy. I was probably quite an annoying baby, screaming and stuff. It was my birthday two days ago – 11th July. So I am actually a child of T in the Park.”
“T in the Park has definitely been a great thing for Scottish culture. I’ve always wanted to go, and always wanted to play here – so it’s great to be finally doing it with my band.”
Austin Williams (vocals): “It’s our first time here and I didn’t really know anything about T in the Park – I just knew it was a good laugh and everyone’s up for it here, apparently.”
Cavan McCarthy (bass): “I used to watch it on TV and always thought it looked mental. And we were first on today, and it was great. Everyone is just well up for in Scotland – we love it.”
Austin: “There was a lot of clapping – not applause but rhythmic clapping.”
Cavan: “All our shows in Scotland since the start have been great. Since we were unknown…”
Austin: “This is a brilliant change for us this summer. Last summer the most busy thing in my life was recording the OC on Sky+.”
Where were you in 1994?
Austin: “I was two so I was just hanging out with my parents. And I was hatching plans to becoming a rock star.”
Cavan: “I was one and already I wanted to be a rapper. My first word was actually a strong lyric – ‘I thought I’d die in prison/I’ve got expensive taste in women’
What do you make of the backstage facilities?
Cavan: “Oh, amazing. Big shout-out to Popcorn Catering. Ten out of ten. Respect for the food.
RED SKY JULY
Ally McErlaine (guitar): “I was here yesterday playing with Texas, but I’m more nervous today than I was then.”
What were you doing in 1994?
“I was 26, and I didn’t play the first T with Texas, but I think we played it the following year.”
Charity Hair (vocals): “I was at school.”
Shelley Poole (vocals): “I met Ally in 1994. That’s when we first got together – we were in separate bands signed to the same label. So this is a nice full circle moment for us!”