When Glastonbury takes a year off, smaller festivals have a chance to mark out for themselves as much of the massive void left behind as possible.
In the case of T in the Park, the largest in Scotland and one of the nation’s top five, two areas were decisively claimed ownership of this year. Firstly, an enviable position as the first UK festival to play host to the revived Stone Roses since the Reading appearance which killed them off in 1996; and secondly, as the scene of some all but catastrophic rain, the resulting soup of mud-sliding desperadoes broadcast to the nation as some manner of cautionary parable.
This year the flipside of having one segment of most average festivalgoers' dream festival headlining on the Saturday appeared to mean there was only enough left in the kitty for dependable but slightly uninspiring bill-topping performances from Snow Patrol and Kasabian on the other evenings. In fact the highlight of a Friday which saw the audience exploring an expanded line-up and a completely redesigned site came with Florence Welch and her Machine's otherworldly set of hits, the singer showing off a voice of heart-tingling maturity and a truly stunning black and gold ballgown amidst mild weather. Across the arena, New Order would provide the first part of a Manchester revivalist triptych.
In contrast to the downpours, which unleashed themselves until early evening, Saturday was the day filled with the biggest musical highlights: a full-scale and defiant singalong of "Three Little Birds" alongside bassist Aston Barrett’s reconvened Wailers; two great performances by certain future stars in Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic, an eclectic update on Talking Heads for the 21st century, and the spaghetti indie-pop of Django Django, local boys with members from nearby Edinburgh and Tayport; and a perfect and nostalgia-infused support for the main act in Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
By the time the Stone Roses took to the stage shortly after 10pm, the slog through the day was starting to look something like a pilgrimage, with a devotional response to a set (a well-played one, with robust vocals from Ian Brown) which climaxed in mass singalongs to "Made of Stone", "This is the One", "She Bangs the Drums" and "I Am the Resurrection" - and the sense that it had gone every bit as well as can be expected when longed-for fantasy and gritty reality collide.
Everything else was an anti-climax, although Sunday’s sets from fellow Manchester returnees the Happy Mondays and bass-addled pop princess Nicki Minaj were very different rays of sunshine.
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- Noel Gallagher
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