T in the Park, Balado, Kinross

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The Independent Culture

Amidst the Sunday mudbathing, the novelty of an almost completely redesigned site and some thrilling headline performances, this year's T in the Park was memorable for two very different sets that nailed the spirit of their times. One, although not quite up there with Glastonbury '95, was the latest instalment of Pulp's reunion tour on the Sunday evening, a poignant reminder of just how few contemporary pop artists write from the position of taking a close look at the world around them.

"Speaking of 'Do You Remember the First Time'," wondered Jarvis Cocker idly, rakish in a black velvet suit, "do you remember the last time this piece of shit came out?" He held up a copy of the day's News of the World and proceeded to mime wiping his backside with it. In all fairness, the drenched crowd took some warming up, but Cocker's energetic sense of humour, the combination of nostalgia exemplified by "Sorted for E's & Whizz" (written in a day when raves in fields didn't have their own shuttle buses afterwards) and the ever-more cuttingly relevant "Common People" had inspired a gleeful mud-diving pit by the end.

The other big set, of course, was Beyoncé's dazzling, superstar-quality turn on the Saturday night, a reprise of this year's heel-stamping, thigh-shaking Glastonbury zenith. Those thrilling dance sequences for "Crazy in Love", "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and a medley of Destiny's Child hits were present, along with her covers of Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire" and Prince's "The Beautiful Ones", but fortunately the maligned reading of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" had been stripped out in favour of her own "Irreplaceable".

Next to the above, the headliners seemed almost like a sideshow, but on their own merits Arctic Monkeys were creditably loud and punkish on Friday, Coldplay offered an anthemic, firework-strewn Saturday show that edged them ever closer to the territory previously occupied by U2, and Foo Fighters threw the festival towards a suitably energetic finale on Sunday night. All were enjoyed fiercely by a crowd who are used to the rain by now.