T In The Park, Balado, Kinross

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The Independent Culture

Like Scotland's football team, the country's premier music festival, T in the Park, is making steady progress. This year, 85,000 fans saw 185 acts on eight main stages, which puts the festival – now a three-day event – on a scale roughly half that of Glastonbury. And T sold out within hours of tickets being made available once again this year.

T's consistent, intelligently mixed programme offers assurance that a wide range of tastes and age groups will be catered for, although there were no curveball decisions on headliners – the organisers are no closer to booking a Jay-Z.

Instead, the biggest acts were old-stagers REM, Rage Against the Machine and The Verve. As perverse as it feels to be calling The Verve the most suited of these to younger tastes, Friday's headliners conjured a little of the stoic cocksureness that Rage would later bring, while matching almost all of REM's relatively gentle melodies. Indeed, where the experience of listening to Michael Stipe and co seemed no less diminished by just cocking an ear while shuttling between Sunday's more fiery bill-toppers Primal Scream and The Prodigy (and standing still for a while during the ever-great "Man on the Moon"), the polemic rock of Rage Against the Machine and Zak de la Rocha was worth being thoroughly immersed in for a period. While the average crowd-member might know Rage by reputation rather than back catalogue, the angry protest rock of closer "Killing in the Name" was possibly the main stage's most unifying moment.

The upper half of the bill was similarly populated by elder delegates, and while the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen and Primal Scream (the latter dedicating a new track to the former) remain good value, more lumpen acts like Stereophonics, Feeder and the inexplicably resurrected Shed Seven are merely something to hum along to.

A similar fate – to be dully successful but some way off revered – surely awaits Pigeon Detectives, Kaiser Chiefs and The Fratellis, although the last need only play "Chelsea Dagger" for a Scots crowd to feel 19 all over again.

It was the fact that the quality didn't tail off further down that embarrassed this year's T with its own riches. The apoplectic mainstream drum'n'bass of Pendulum, the sophisticated techno-pop of Hot Chip and the mesmerising space-rock of Holy Fuck all stood out, while the supremely well-realised disco-metal of Chrome Hoof was a highlight of the weekend that only a couple of hundred people witnessed.

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