Review - T in the Park, Balado, Sunday 10 July
Glorious Pulp, heavy rain and hard electronic madness
I was duly punished for arriving late to T in the Park this year by a brief, but torrential shower, hitting at about 3pm on the Sunday. A quick meteorological experiment to measure the level of rain in my wellies revealed that it had just ‘pissed down’. This was conducted while my group were taking shelter in the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage (or the ‘smaller blue tent’ for those less fond of T’s very many corporate sponsorship deals) where Roddy Womble looked very dry as he belted out his alt.country standards.
We moved on quickly to catch FOUND performing a noisy set on the T Break stage. Their closer, ‘Shallow’ ripped through the crowd – a cacophony of combined electronic and guitar fuzz, with singer Ziggy Campbell’s yearning vocals soaring over the top.
A quick visit to the media area toilet (very high quality – a choice of two hand soaps) later, and it was a short tramp through the rising mud to see Weezer. Rivers Cuomo wore his T in the Park pac-a-poncho like a Superman cape. Indeed, the crowd treated him like a hero. The band’s all killer, no filler set included another band’s best song – Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’. It was a note perfect rendition, which left the T crowd slightly bemused. They were happier watching all five of the band beat drummer Patrick Wilson’s kit to a pulp at the end of the set.
Metronomy (fully dry – and a good job because they had some quite complicated electronics taped to their shirts) commented that it was nice to see a decent turnout for them in the smaller blue tent. They’d been outdone the first time they played T by a motocross accident during their set. No such sense of anticlimax in 2011 though. They belted out every crowd-pleasing song in their canon, with bassist Gbenga Adelekan leading the general sense of euphoria with some impressive slap bass. His jeans were also commendably tight.
Diplo in the Slam Tent was pulling no punches. It was dubstep banger after dubstep banger. As with all DJs, there was nothing to watch on stage, but the crowd shots on the big screen provided enough entertainment, showcasing a particularly inventive range of rude hand gestures.
Finally, it was time for the undisputed highlight of the Sunday. Glorious, glorious, Pulp. Reunited. Revelling in their lyrical greatness – their superlative pop prowess – their dominance of the pastel shade. Jarvis Cocker, I could weep at the easiness of your stage manner. I would buy anthologies of your offhand comments, your descriptions of fairground bungee rides: ‘up and down, up and down, for ever, not knowing where the sky and ground are.’ Their hour and a bit on stage was truly beautiful. Even Jarvis simulating a dying erection with his microphone was, in a way, awe-inspiring. Every track – ‘Underwear’ and ‘Babies’ and ‘Monday Morning’ – brought back great memories.
Except, for much of the T crowd, the songs didn’t. Pulp broke through with Different Class in 1995. That song, and ‘Disco 2000’, which are still the staples of indie discos everywhere, went down exceptionally well. The rest of their set was, sadly, lost a little to the post-precipitation lull that had descended over the main stage.
Something to lift spirits was needed then. What about The Bloody Beetroots? Hard, hard electronic madness. The sound of pure punk spirit, channelled through the unstoppable force of machines. One of the few electronic acts who can better the energy of a rock concert. Breathtaking.
Rather than returning to the main stage for the Foo Fighters, the evening was ended in the company of Noah and the Whale, who were being their usual, charming selves in the smaller blue tent (my favourite). They’re best when they’re being miserable, in my opinion, but still, the more upbeat songs that they favoured for this set seemed to be disappointing no one. The girls and boys of T were happily wrestling in the mud, lapping up the slime like it was chocolate. And if that’s not a mark of festival approval, I don’t know what is.