Day two of the final weekend in Balado is more typical fair, in terms of Scottish weather at least, as the drizzly conditions descend over the well loved fields latest chart sensation Kiesza treats those early risers to a catchy synchronised dance filled rendition of number one single ‘Hideaway’, I wander past on route to T Break to catch the end Glasgow based Perth boys We Came From Wolves.
When I get there, arriving early today still doesn’t quite cut it for getting in on time due to the overwhelming popularity of Saturday day tickets, it doesn’t surprise to find a bigger than usual crowd sheltering from the rain, regardless the band seem to be hitting a chord with their fast paced, clap along, pop tinged jaggy rock sound.
I only get to see around one and a half songs but it’s certainly enough to peak my attention for the next time they’re playing back home; it’s then time to head back over to the media tent to gage the days events after early rush.
In the midst of the confusion I manage to somehow miss bolshy funfair popsters The Moon Kids, but do manage to at least see the second half of The Stranglers, or one half of The Stranglers depending on how you see it, and although the veteran rockers may not be the best choice for the youngsters they go down well with the Balado regulars and ‘No More Heroes’ ticks another big track of the ‘seen live’ list.
Over at Radio One Sophie Ellis-Bextor gives us a few disco tinged pop numbers spaced out by some rather whimsical newer efforts, while making us feel old by stating this is her first T in the Park since 1998, when you take a glance at her back catalogue this is pretty hard to believe since her rise to fame through Spiller number one single ‘Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)’ was only in 2000.
Still wether Sophie thinks she’s older than she actually is, 35 incidentally and looking good for it, it’s a fun filled set, but her dancing in a pretty much see through negligee, albeit a little more tasteful that Charli XCX yesterday, feels a touch inappropriate.
Still the afore mention Spiller single, a cover of Moloko’s ‘Sing It Back’ and her best known solo effort ‘Murder On The Dance Floor’ boost up the disco vibes and get the good times feeling flowing before as and Sophie herself puts it: “like Mary Poppins I fly away”.
Back over at the Main Stage the dubstep infected pop of Katy B is a graspingly infectious follow up, as the Londoner’s distinct accent washes over gathering crowd, who’re enjoying a rare dry spell.
B is joined by four black and white clad dancers and puts on a very active display, strutting and skipping around the stage while giving us her enjoyable pop tinged spin on many London based dance movements.
Her more urban effected tracks get the biggest reaction this afternoon, as break out 2010 singles ‘Katy On A Mission’ and ‘Lights On’ spark a massive reaction from the ever growing Main Stage audience.
Over at T Break I catch two non ‘T Break’ acts back to back, the first of which is Berkshire raised, pixie cropped teenager Chloe Howl who twitches around the stage in almost hyperactive fashion, while delivering some shimmering electronic pop in her distinct southern English accent.
She’s certainly not off putting for those sheltering from the weather and with a major label behind her it wouldn’t be a surprise if this girl was massive in years in come.
The infectious pop rock of Aussie’s The Jezabels follows at the same stage, and the band who have been making waves on touring with Depeche Mode and the Pixies do themselves no harm today as singer Hayley Mary flows across the stage delivering powerful vocals akin to Stevie Nicks in delivery, while also managing to hit high notes Kate Bush would be proud of.
Chants of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” from the crowd are shunned by the band not wanting to stereotyped like their countrymen in the crowd, instead they move through a set of building rockers that would have people of all ages hooked.
Mary gives her fellow Aussie’s a slightly back handed nod by saying “thanks for the flag but put it down now”, before giving a nod to September’s referendum and then finishing on the soaring ‘A Little Piece’.
It’s then time to play count the bucket hats as Manchester Britpop forerunners and T in the Park regulars James deliver the typical fun filled singalong as hits like ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Laid’ ring around the festival well after the set is done.
Over at BBC Introducing, a stage featuring less Scottish acts than it did last year, possibly down to the acts that got a shot at Big Weekend in Glasgow back in May, Dundee’s Copper Lungs play to a mobbed tent and look like they’re in their element.
The four-piece’s pop edged post-hardcore sounds perfectly at home in these surroundings and with room to spare, live all the whiney edges of the records that make them somewhat of a acquired taste are shaved off and the raw energetic performance is a joy to behold, enough to convince anyone that if they continue on the same projectory they’ll get to play bigger stages than this in years to come.
The Amazing Snakeheads close off Introducing tonight and the band that are so often given the Marmite description prove that whether you love them or hate them they’re certainly not dull with performance that riles the crowd into sheer frenzy.
It’s high octane stuff from start to finish as Dale Barclay’s sneery punk delivery and maddened grin are offset perfectly by William Coombe’s bouncing bass and slithering movements, it’s in your face psychedelic rock that moves from rockabilly to punk in the blink of an eye and would scare many watching Rudimental over at the Main Stage.
But as Barclay swigs a bottle of Buckfast and passes to along the front row and mosh pits break loose, these Glasgow boys prove they are anything but boring.
Next up is the most difficult choice of the evening as Pharrell Williams and The Human League’s set run into one another, but as Pharrell has a good 20-minute start on the Sheffield new wavers we start off at the Main Stage and see how it goes.
As you would expect it’s infectious stuff and Pharrell in that now iconic hat struts around the stage knowing just how cool he is opening with Daft Punk’s ‘Lose Yourself To Dance’; it’s amazing to consider Pharrell’s back catalogue and still hard to believe that he’s in his 40s, but as the torrential rain blasts down Pharrell’s funk filled festival friendly set is exactly what is needed.
A quick rendition of Nelly’s ‘Hot In Herre’ from his production back catalogue heats things up before the man of the moment lifts the crowd again, recognising the horrid condition and shouting “you are officially here to party” before introducing a couple of N.E.R.D numbers.
Giving a nod to the crowd’s “relentless Scottish energy” Pharrell introducing his dance crew, The Babes, who break loose as we get a run through or some of Pharrell’s biggest production hits, including Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollerback Girl’ and Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop Like It’s Hot’, before performing Robin Thicke’s anthem ‘Blurred Lines’.
As I make my way over towards the King Tut’s Tent Pharrell brings Pinkie on stage, a girl who he announces “beat cancer” and as she receives a tearful hug from Virginia born superstar it’s a moment to step back to take check of what happening before ‘Happy’ launches the crowd to feverous joy once again.
Still as good as Pharrell is, nothing could quite prepare you for the glory of The Human League, who stamp their mark on the festival and leave the Arctic Monkeys with a lot to do if they want the glory of being Yorkshire’s favourite sons in Balado this weekend.
After getting a touch carried away with the hit after hit of Pharrell I arrive a good portion into their set, something instantly regreted as I arrive to the new wave glory of ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’, which proves just how good Phil Oakey and co are some 37-years in their career.
The packed tent is electric and the crowd are hanging off every word in a sheer party atmosphere, the huge cheer for “this is a song by my friend Giorgio Moroder” is glorious as Oakey’s track with the Italo disco legend ‘Together In Electric Dreams’ produces an emphatic dance along that is only topped by the the crowd singing every word to iconic hit ‘Don’t You Want Me’ before Oakey had even picked up the mike again.
The singalong continues long after the band have left the stage, but leaves a somewhat odd feeling that the should be headliners have already happened.
Like last night I end my night on a triple bill of T Break, starting with the glitchy electronic of Glasgow trio Atom Tree, and after only forming a year ago their beautiful soundscapes are getting the justification they deserve much sooner than expected.
It’s a somewhat no frills live performance as the band let their haunting pulses do the talking, vocalist Julie Knox is almost stranded behind a table as she takes to synth duties when she could provide the act with a focal point that would add that extra element.
Still, after a hesitant start Knox’s sultry vocals are as captivating as the electronics, at time channeling Beach House’s Victoria Legrand as you lose yourself in a glistening electro daze.
It’s a whole different escape as Dundee’s Fat Goth prepare to take their stage, their press shot appearing on the screens looking much like something Dick Valentine would come away with; yes it’s brash, hilarious and rock ‘n’ roll, everything that the band themselves portray in vast quantities, they must not take themselves too seriously with a moniker such as Fat Goth, right?
They even have their own entrance music, it’s wonderfully theatrical stuff even before the band start blasting their heavy metal riffs and infectiously urgent delivery as their tongue in cheek attitude makes them all the more likeable as people show face that wouldn’t necessarily listen to a band with such a heavy sound.
They don’t quite have the stage banter that you would expect from other bands of their ilk, but hilarity aside there’s distinct quality to these Dundonian’s output that would hook any adamant heavy metal fans as easily as it would someone looking for something a little more jovial than Elbow’s rather dull alt rock seemingly as performed by the cast of Shameless just outside.
Edinburgh’s guitar-laptop/drums duo Birdhead close off T Break on Saturday night with some pulsing bolshie krautrock inspired grooves and sparing but hooky shouted vocals from engaging frontman Stephen Donkin.
These guys manage to pull a bigger crowd than Tuff Love did last night, but it’s still not enough to do them justice as they sound massive for a duo and their uptempo sound in entrancing and much better than anything else on offer at the three big stages.
It is worth noting that as the rain hits us at it’s heaviest Calvin Harris brings Will Smith on stage to introduce him, not something that I manage to see but the Fresh Prince doesn’t perform any of his own hits so we’re putting that down as a let down avoided rather than some missed fun.
Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Bill Gray