T in the Park, Balado, near Kinross

Perry experiences Park life as Blur bow out
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The Independent Culture

With an expanding capacity year-on-year (now 85,000, an increase of 5,000 on 2008), a greater concentration of nationally recognised artists and the kind of widespread media recognition which places it just below Glastonbury and level with Reading and Leeds in the UK's festival pecking order, T in the Park has become as definitive a Scottish brand as Irn Bru.



Katy Perry, one of the more successful of those big names, entered into the spirit with a bit of good natured national stereotyping during her first live appearance in the country. "I really like Scotland, and I'll tell you why," she whooped, "I really like red-haired people."

An energised and likeable performer Perry braved the Saturday afternoon forecasts of rain (which didn't appear) in a red tartan mini-dress torn to the hips. Presumably a tin of shortbread and a replica Archie Gemmill World Cup '78 strip awaited her just offstage, once a slightly over-enthusiastic version of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" and her own "I Kissed a Girl" had closed the set.

The peripheries of this year's line up seemed to be concerned with pure pop thrills, alongside a healthy dose of reformed or returning acts. In the former category stood Lady Gaga, who proved dumbly entertaining through a variety of costume changes and a version of "Poker Face" that lasted 15 minutes and spanned every genre, from rock to acoustic balladry to disco.

Neither as gauche nor as must-see for all but devotees, other corners of the bill featured smaller but much-cherished performances by Squeeze, Jane's Addiction and one-time Undertones offshoot That Petrol Emotion. Creditably, each night's headliners (Kings of Leon on Friday, the Killers on Saturday, Blur on Sunday) were offset by a well respected but less commercial highlight on one of the other main stages.

Whoever lined Mogwai up against Blur – who the Scots post-rockers once verbally lambasted in interview – undoubtably had a sense of humour.

Kings of Leon, meanwhile, were the ideal festival headliners: none too subtle but blessed with honest, generously chorused singalongs of the easily learned variety. They were mirrored by an altogether blacker brand of Americana on the NME/Radio 1 Stage in the form of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, who put on a memorable show in the late evening twilight. Between the Killers – the emperor's new clothes of stadium rockers if ever there was one – and Nine Inch Nails, allegedly playing their final show on Scottish soil and one of their last shows ever, there was no comparison. The latter were an industrial cataclysm which memorably featured Trent Reznor throwing each new guitar at the floor or into the lighting rig after each track, and a superb finale with "Hurt", their most famous song thanks to Johnny Cash's appropriation of it.

Yet the weekend's defining moment, and the one which proved more definitively Caledonian than all Perry's tartan upholstery, was Glasvegas producing a tear-jerking, miserable but glad hearted cover of the Proclaimers' finest three minutes, "Sunshine On Leith".

The weekend bulged with great music for all tastes and enjoyed (mostly) perfect weather. It might well have fallen apart, though, had Graham Coxon's hospitalisation for apparent food poisoning earlier in the day put paid to what Damon Albarn described as "our last gig" with a note of certainty.

In that case, it was a particular relief to see the band emerge, albeit ninety minutes late, for a truncated best-of set. There wasn't so much an air of finality as an unspoken mutual agreement between band and fans that the likes of "She's So High", "Girls and Boys", "This is a Low", "Country House" and a gorgeous, gospel-tinged "Tender" are welcome period pieces which won't be bettered by this band. Still, it was nice to get the chance to say goodbye properly.

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