T in the Park 2009 - Sunday

Feature by Ally Brown | 15 Jul 2009

Savvy that their back catalogue might as well exist only in ‘best of’ form these days, Squeeze are quick off the mark with the hits. As the only band to contend with a downpour, they have to be, but they make it look easy: Coffee In Bed’s call-and-response sing-along aint bad for 1pm on Sunday, while Pulling Mussels even halts the heavens, meaning it's not just great pop for which T can be thankful. [cb]

Marching out with loudhailer and fur hat like a fashionista union leader, VV Brown cuts quite the star image. Some vigorous dancing ensures the hat doesn’t last, but the party atmosphere does; with plenty of sixties-aping indie-pop and charm, even constant “thankyousomuchyouguysohmygoodness!” exclamations don’t grate. The only sour note is the sales-pitch during Shark in The Water (“ARE YOU GOING TO BUY THE ALBUM?!” ad infinitum) which tips from breathless enthusiasm into shrill market-trader territory. [cb]

It's a bit silly having The Twilight Sad on the BBC Introducing stage - it seems to be the biggest crowd this stage gets all weekend, and no-one is being introduced. From near the back, beyond the roof, the sound swirls out a bit, and the nearby Slam Tent's beats interfere; but I can also see the whole crowd, and how positive and excited everyone is. There's several stunning moments: new single I Became A Prostitute's explosive drum slams; the slow, almost a cappella intro to Cold Days From The Birdhouse bursting into its ascending three-chord maelstrom; James Graham screaming "head up dear, the rabbit might die!" as And She Would Darken The Memory approaches its incredible cacophonous crescendo. With a second album just approaching, it's tempting to feel that The Twilight Sad might be on the verge of something big here: the Futures Tent, beckoning for 2010. Watch the performance here. [ab]

Whilst watching Glasgow’s Dykeenies, attentions are habitually caught by a young couple diligently collecting empty pint cups for their 10p recycling value. With hindsight, it seems a preferable way to spend forty minutes of valuable festival time. Despite near-unrelenting crowd participation, barely a moment of their repertoire is elevated above lukewarm, indie cup-a-soup. Pick You Up is the only fleeting exception. “We’ve made twenty quid,” chirps the girl struggling with a gargantuan tower of cups afterwards. Time better spent. [dc]

Regina Spector proves a golden rule of festival sets: if in doubt, play something that allows the crowd to merrily clap along. Festival crowds love clapping. For this reason, Spector’s faster, more upbeat numbers work better than her piano balladry (speaking of which, the roadies responsible for carting a grand piano up on stage deserve an ovation of their own…). Closing with Fidelity, Spektor is an unexpected highlight of the festival. [cb]

The rock clichés deployed by Eagles of Death Metal are far too numerous and winsome to list here, but at least frontman Jesse Hughes will sleep knowing T in the Park were indeed “ready to rock ‘n’ roll!!!” Invigorating at first, mildly amusing thereafter, before their limited template of three chord riffs and histrionic solos becomes too much to endure past the twenty-minute mark. In their favour, they can clearly fart this cookie-cutter, tongue-in-cheek rawk out in their sleep. No doubt another band member is always on hand to set fire to them. [dc]

Bloc Party's last two albums haven't been as rewarding as their first continues to be, but they do deserve credit for making significant efforts to do interesting things with their sound. Some of the bizarre noises they sneak into their mid-afternoon Main Stage set are quite unsettling, and not what crowds standing here are usually challenged with. A new song, for example, starts with heavy 4/4 Slam Tent beats, a giddy piano riff and a low-slung grooving bassline, very odd in combination but it seems to work. Mercury continues to be divisive, with the hardcore fans near the stage lapping it up while the rest of us get distracted. But of course, no-one's attention wanders during This Modern Love and Helicopter. [ab]

Two observations spring to mind during Passion Pit: 1) Sleepyhead is an absolute corker of a tune, and 2) when leaving during the final song to hot-foot across the site, their synth indie-dance blends with the chart cheese spewing from fairground rides in a somewhat disorientating way. Is credibility really separated from cack by such a fine divide? Or is the Doppler effect + beer simply a recipe for confusion on this reviewer’s part? I’ll go with the latter. [cb]

With the Streets at capacity, aimless wandering towards the first promising sound to reach my ears brings me to the amiable, already-underway Alto Elite. Although summing up a band on the basis of two songs is a little unfair, first impressions are pretty impressive - a tad cookie-cutter in their lyrical themes (“bills are getting harder to pay” etc) and their Hollyoaks-indie melodies perhaps, but they’ve a sure-footed way with big-open-heart choruses that bodes well. [cb]

Doves’ soaring anthems should sit well on a sunny afternoon on the NME stage, but there is something anaemic about their delivery today. During Pounding singer Jimi Goodwin could well be a mannequin with a speaker box for a mouth from where I stand and despite a healthy crowd size the feeling of just standing watching a band play some songs pervades. [dc]

Elbow’s affability reminds me of the charming/aggressive “Shut it you friendly bastard!” heckle once heard shouted at the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne. Guy Garvey is certainly a friendly bastard, but today his schtick tries no-one’s patience. A reverse Mexican-wave falls flat - most revert to the “T salute” (hands in the air, screaming incoherently), proving that good-will doesn’t make following instructions any easier after a crate of beer - but otherwise they’re the perfect sun-lounging soundtrack. [cb]

TV on the Radio suffer a double indignity of a waning King Tut’s crowd (Lily Allen is on the NME stage) and temperamental sound. With an added saxophone to cater to, it is, at times, little more than a mess. As an opening gambit, Love Dog was never going to win over casual onlookers (such as there were) and the jazz reworking of old favourite The Wrong Way didn’t sit too well on first listen. However, there were enough moments when such niggles completely evaporated. The straight-ahead Wolf Like Me and, of course, set-closer Staring at the Sun can hardly fail to impress. [dc]

"Stay calm, stay calm, stay calm" Adam Thomson sings during Roll Up Your Sleeves, but nobody's staying calm at We Were Promised Jetpacks' early evening T-Break set. Everyone is waving, singing, clapping, cheering, jumping, moshing, climbing on shoulders; the energy in this packed out tent is incredible. Then before Quiet Little Voices, he lies: "This is our only decent song"; it segues straight into an epic Ships With Holes Will Sink, and then Short Bursts keeps up the momentum as blinding lights flash at every cymbal hit. Wow. [ab]

Seal Cub Clubbing Club seem worth a visit for their contentious moniker alone. However, they prove as unappealing in reality as the activity of their name suggests. The singer’s voice could conceivably be described as Marmite-esque, though it’s difficult to imagine many people sitting on the ‘love’ end of such a spectrum. A steadily dwindling crowd seems to validate this. However, the schizophrenic white-boy rapping of their penultimate song is an unexpected joy, suggesting an alternative and rarely tread path to follow should the band wish to follow it. [dc]

Objectivity is paramount in reviewing a gig, but when you find yourself slap-bang in the middle of a ‘Wall of Cuddles’, such a concept is difficult to maintain. For their penultimate song, Dananananaykroyd manage to orchestrate such a soiree, leaving you either joining the fray, or looking like an uptight, socially-awkward, misery guts. The fact that their set is a water-tight, jubilant and highly energetic one is almost a bonus after the warm fuzzies they scatter-gun into a healthy crowd pull. This is exactly the sort of chaotic, good-natured, racket that all hyperactive teenagers with guitars should be making. [dc]

The Pet Shop Boys' first ever T In The Park show comes across like a Kraftwerk pastiche at times: the German-language sloganeering, the tinny techno beats, the dancers wearing blocks on their heads like robots. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe know they have no stage presence, so they entertain us with blockheaded dancers and bizarre video wall projections instead. Pet Shop Boys aren't just a singles band but few here know anything other than the big singles: it makes for long spells watching the screen between momentary eruptions for Go West and Always On My Mind, before noticeable numbers trail off for Blur. [ab]

With news that guitarist Graham Coxon has been hospitalised, most punters are on tenterhooks for an hour-and-a-half before Blur finally appear and launch into She’s So High. Such dramatics are compounded when Damon Albarn quietly announces that this will be their 'last show'. Many don’t even catch the utterance and the expected audience response never materialises, such is the ambiguity - the last show for now, or forever?

Whatever has happened tonight, Coxon and Albarn certainly don’t seem to be displaying the camaraderie they did at Glastonbury a mere two weeks ago. As for the setlist, a cynic might question the seemingly dispassionate box-ticking of their pop triumvirate; Country House, Park Life and Song 2 are all delivered back to back. “Do you want another one like that?” asks Albarn between each song like he’s placating a child. But it’s difficult to fault the tunes; Girls and Boys is rapturous, Beetlebum hypnotic and Coffee and TV bristles neck hairs.

The epic crowd sing-a-long of Tender is emotional, if a bit indulgent, and there’s more than a little irony that it is being played out at roughly the point where fellow headliners Mogwai will be wrapping up their King Tut’s set. The Universal is a poignant farewell, the band reclaiming it as their own with a heartfelt delivery. “Well, here’s your lucky day,” sings Albarn, and given today’s events and the show we’ve witnessed, the man has a point. [dc]