T IN THE PARK BIDS AN EMOTIONAL FAREWELL TO ITS BALADO HOME
The closing leg of T in the Park 2014 was the ultimate day, in both senses of the word – the last celebration at Balado, and also perhaps one of the best. The day dawned bright and sunny; the night fell with a fat moon and fireworks. #perfectfestivalmoments
The weather was firmly onside, and so were the best fans in the world. As sunshine poured over the site on Sunday 14th July, the Main Stage reverberated all day long to huge, lusty singalongs, with Bastille setting an early pace. Any lingering clouds in the bright blue sky were surely blasted away by the chorus The Things We Lost In The Fire.
They were soon followed on the Main Stage by one of T’s favourite sons (or modfathers): Mr Paul Weller was in glorious form, playing songs ranging from far and wide across his peerless back catalogue.
Then, in a deft piece of T festival billing, Weller was succeeded by Jake Bugg – the young artist who’s the closest inheritor of The Modfather’s golden status. The pair had earlier bonded in the backstage artists’ area, while Bugg relished the opportunity of playing his third T in a row. Hard to think that it was only two years ago that he was an unknown, up and coming act, spanking all-comers on the backstage ping-pong table. His talents know no bounds, and he was rightly rapturously received on the Main Stage.
Still, he was given a good run for his money with Tinie Tempah’s simultaneous set on the Radio 1 stage. Viewed from atop the famous T in the Park Ferris wheel, the London rapper had the entire crowd bouncing in unison. Some achievement.
As the sun dipped from a glorious day to an even more glorious evening, there were more returning heroes: Arctic Monkeys headlining for a third time. “T in the Park, I’ve missed you,” said Alex Turner as the Sheffield foursome let loose a thrilling opening volley of Do I Wanna Know?, Snap Out Of It and Arabella. Slick of hair and leather of jacket, he’s become an electrifying frontman, throwing angular shapes with swagger, cool and dry wit. Jarvis Presley, if you like.
Towards the end of the set, before the closing R U Mine, he hit the nail on the head: “I hate goodbyes.” We knew how he felt.
It was all over bar the bagpipes and the fireworks. An emotional, mass rendition of Flower Of Scotland set the Kinross-shire hills on fire, before a jaw-dropping pyrotechnic display lit the big Scottish sky. There was just time for T in the Park boss Geoff Ellis to pay heartfelt tribute to the local community for being brilliant hosts these past 18 years… and then to quicken the pulse just a little at the prospect of a brand new T in the Park for 2015 at its new home at Strathallan Castle.
Bye bye Balado. It’s been emotional.
Festival Director Geoff Ellis said: “The moment that fireworks light up the Balado sky and 85,000 festival-goers sing along to the piper’s rendition of Flower of Scotland to mark the festival finale is always a special one for me, but this year it was made extra poignant as our last ever day at Balado came to a close. We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has made the Balado years so special, especially the local community who have truly taken the festival to their hearts and have been fantastically welcoming over the past 18 years.
“Our amazing audience made sure the weekend was an unforgettable one, and that Balado got the epic send-off party it deserves. We’ll miss this place hugely, and as we bid an emotional farewell to our beloved Balado, we also look forward to next year, when we take up residence at Strathallan Castle, and we hope you’ll join us for this next phase in our journey.”
George Kyle, Head of Sponsorship, Tennent’s Lager, said: “What a fantastic weekend. As founding partners of the festival, Tennent’s are exceptionally proud to have been the T in T in the Park since the very beginning. We take with us some very special memories from the past 18 years here in Balado, and this weekend has been a truly wonderful celebration of our time here. From the glorious sunshine we’ve been lucky to enjoy this weekend, to the fantastic performances, it’s been a brilliant past few days, and tonight we’d like to raise one final toast to our Kinross-shire hosts – here’s to Balado, thank you for the memories.”
Tickets for T in the Park 2015, which takes place from 10th – 12th July 2015 at the new site Strathallan Castle, will be available on Friday 18th July at 9am from www.tinthepark.com and www.ticketmaster.co.uk. A £50 deposit scheme will also be available.
BACKSTAGE CHATS FROM THE FINAL DAY OF T IN THE PARK
“This is my first T in the Park, and in fact my first time in Scotland. All I knew about it before was why it was called T in the Park: because of the beer. And you know what? My time here has been really short and sweet but it’s so nice. I did a festival yesterday, and the vibe and feel are so different. This artists area is so friendly, and even going up to the stage, everyone was so friendly and so cool. And a lot of the artists here are my friends and it’s nice to be able to jump in and have a chat.
“The crowd knew loads of words to my songs. It was weird. There’s a song in my set that I’ve not released that people really connect to. And I stopped singing sometimes ’cause I was thinking: they’re actually singing this!”
“My T experience in one word: special.”
“This is my third time here. My first T, I played the Futures stage, and I’d just had my first hit big hit, Number Three, Kickstarts, and then had to close the tent. And I seem to remember Mumford & Sons were on either just before or just after. It’s weird to think that was only four or five years ago. And then two years later it was me Florence, Snow Patrol on the Main Stage. And now I’m back headlining King Tut’s.
“Scottish fans are the best in the world. We all know that there are good festivals all over the world, really well-organised ones, great backstages in a lot of places. But this is one of the only ones where artists actually come out of their dressing rooms and hang, which is great. And the fans, while they seem completely loopy, are really respectful at the same time. If you ask them to do something – like sing along – they do. They’re not standing they’re dully clapping their hands. They react to you; they want you to perform. They’re happy for you to ask something of them, and they’re happy to give that.
“It’s an amazing site, the staff are lovely, the catering is always great – I’d happily come back here for the next decade. And King Tut’s was the first venue I played in Scotland, supporting Plan B in 2005. I’ll smash it tonight. I’m loving it. It’s a pleasure to be back.”
“The stage manager put his arm around me and said: I’m pretty sure this is the fifth time I’ve put you on this stage. But I haven’t done the Main Stage every time so I must have done it more than five times. But some of the best YouTube footage from my whole career I have is of when I did Bohemian Rhapsody here I think two years ago. That was particularly up for it.
“The crowds are always up for it. Scottish crowds are always just livelier than anywhere else. There’s a certain energy they bring to the table. And it’s very music-focused – there’s less distractions than at other festivals.
“My farewell message to Balado: it’s been great. I’m still slightly embarrassed that I can’t remember how many times I’ve been here… But it’s been awesome every time. As long as they don’t lose the reverse bungee at the new site. Otherwise what am I gonna watch when I’m playing? I try and time the launch with big notes.”
Stevie Jukes (singer): “This is our third time. I think we’re the first unsigned band to be asked back twice. T in the Park has a huge part in our hearts. We’ve come here as fans for years, and to get asked to play was an unbelievable privilege and honour. We got asked to play the BBC Introducing Stage, then last year we played the Transmission Stage, which was a huge step up, and then this year we were asked back as special guests.
“T in the Park is the pinnacle. If you’re a Scottish band it’s the peak of where you want to play. Look at Biffy Clyro going through the ranks of the small stages, then they headlined on Friday. It would be a dream come true to follow in their footsteps.”
“I played the very first T in the Park at Balado. And I played the original site, and one time Noel [Gallagher] played with us here. But the Scottish people are always mad for it – that’s what makes the difference, otherwise it’s just a festival. The last time I was here it was pissing down, proper pouring, but everyone was still up for it.
“I remember my very first gig in Scotland – it was a club Zhivago’s by the river in Glasgow. It was fantastic. Then I remember being on The Clash White Riot tour and we played Edinburgh Playhouse.”
“Two years ago I played T in the Park, and it was the first time I’d played a festival and gone out there and seen that many people waiting for me. It was pretty special. And to be here again, third year in a row, to be so far up the bill – what can I say man, I’m honoured.
“We came here from Ireland and I’m pretty shattered to be honest, but it’s all fun, innit? It’s great. I was quoted as saying I hate festivals – obviously to go and play on the stage in front of all those people is incredible. How can you not enjoy that? But: I don’t like the mud. I don’t like the rain. There’s a lot of people. That’s what I meant. But obviously coming here and playing, that’s amazing.
“You’ve always got to put Scotland on the tour, ’cause it’s always gonna be a good gig. I love it here man. People are up for it. Its’ that boost of adrenaline you get. And when you’re not doing a gig you’re pacing around the hotel room at nine o’clock at night, ’cause that’s when you’re meant to be on stage.
“I’ve had my picture taken with Weller. That was great. He’s a dude.. But I try not to let those things soak in; I like to say hello, but then keep myself to myself.
“I do believe the ping pong table is coming over to my dressing room for half-past six. But I didn’t make no diva demands – but I’m not gonna complain about it.
“And I tell you who’s really good that I played against: Win from Arcade Fire. Well, first of all he’s called Win. After he’d beat me, I asked him his name, and he said, ‘Win’. He was a nice guy, though – he’s really tall, man, and a great player. And I thought that’s why they asked me to do the Hyde Park show: he wanted a rematch. But I got there and there wasn’t a table. I thought, oh he’s scared. I do want a rematch though.
“And I’ve heard Alex Turner is pretty good. We were having this debate, and he was on about, ‘oh, do you use the three-star balls?’ I was like, ‘who do you think you are, professional?’ I haven’t played him yet, so if I see him I might have to challenge him.”
Kyle Simmons (keyboards): “We played last year, and it was amazing. It was [singer] Dan’s birthday when we played, so we made a big deal out of that. The show was wicked, the crowd were massive and loud, and they all sang Happy Birthday to Dan. It just went really well.
Kyle: “What we like about T is all the bands and mates you meet along the way, it’s like one big garden party in the artists’ area. You all go and see each other and hang out. It’s just really nicely laid out. Our dressing room is just across from the Kodaline boys, who we know well.
Will: “And the catering is always good. I just had a burrito.”
Kyle: “T comes around between Dan and [drummer] Woody’s birthdays, so everyone’s pumped up anyway. But the Scottish people in general are just wicked – let’s have a festival and let’s do it right. and the crowds are massive, they singaglong and they’re always really responsive. It’s just always fun. And we’re gonna hang about for a bit after and we want to see Disclosure – a lot of the vocalists on their album happen to be here, so that’ll be a great show.”
Nick McCarthy (guitar): “Our first T in the Park, we had a friend of ours managing us, and he couldn’t find the entrance!”
Paul Thomson (drums): “Eventually we got in, we played, and we got fed, which was quite rare back then – we weren’t signed at the time.”
Nick: “And then the next time we played we were on the Main Stage.
Paul: “That was 2004, and I don’t really remember it. But it had been pouring with rain, and then the sun came out. But what makes T in the Park better is that your family are there.”
Nick: “It’s great to be playing here, ten years on, the last one at Balado, and the 21st one.”
Paul: “I played the King Tut’s tent with The Vaccines a couple of years ago, and it was brilliant – I’d never even been in there before, and it was a bit more intense than the Main Stage! I really enjoyed it. It’s always nice to be asked to come to T.”
Simon Rix (bass): “I think we’ve played here five times.
Peanut (keyboards): “Our first one, I remember the noise behind the stage. All our festivals that year had been booked really early, and then the album Employment went nuts. So we were on in the middle of the afternoon and the crowd was massive.”
Simon: “We’d never done a Scottish festival, and it was just an incredible noise generated. And then the last time we played here, we opened things on the Friday. It’s a different sort of gig, and backstage all the people are really friendly. But the Scottish people are amazing. They’re really knowledgeable about music – and I remember that first time, it was the first time I’d heard people singing the riffs to I Predict A Riot and Every Day I Love You Less And Less. It’s that thing of just being totally enthusiastic and absorbed in the music.”
Peanut: “It’s focused on a more rock’n’roll show. It’s about you and the crowd at T – and it works. And long may it live. And to the fans this year: you’ve got to go mental. If you’re retiring this site, you’ve got to give it the best send-off possible.”