So up to the land of Scotch, Haggis and Franz Ferdinand I went. Tent in hand, ready to get mucky to the sounds of the best Scotland’s major festival had to offer.
First up on the Saturday were Australia’s Cut Copy in the dance tent. Their brand of New Order synths mixed with strong club beats went down an absolute treat considering their midday slot. Set against a backdrop of nostalgic moving images they won the crowd over with ease.
Next on the agenda were The Cribs. The sunkissed sounds of last years ‘The New Fellas’ I thought would be perfectly suited to the festival setting but unfortunatly they flattered to decieve today. With the wind blowing the sound all over place, the band plodded on with songs that could of been festival anthems but came over like fairly limp wristed 3 minute throwaways which the Strokes could write in their sleep.
Often being sociable can bring great misery and democracy stated that me and my chums should go see Maximo Park and Placebo…I have seen Maximo Park 4 times now, each time desperatly trying to find that glimmer of quality that has endeared them so much to so many people since the release of their debut album ‘A Certain Trigger’ and being always left wanting. They are just another in a long line of angular punk bands who pander to their influences without offering anything new or interesting. It’s remarkable that Placebo can still command a spot in their parents garage let alone the main stage of a major festival. After years of annoying faux emotional goth warbling. Brian Molko and gang blasted out reams of mediocrity for what seemed like hours. Laughably bad.
Next up were hometown heroes Franz Ferdinand. At the height of their powers, not even the driving Scottish rain could dampen a really classy and exciting performance from one of the best bands in the world today. Opening with ‘This Boy’, Franz belted out all the main events from their first two records to the delirious Scottish faithfull. Closing with ‘This Fire’, you get the feeling that this band can really move forward and create something unique and interesting in the years to come unlike many of their Gang Of Four aping counterparts.
Headlining the main stage were The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’d challenge anyone to say that they havn’t enjoyed many moments in their back catalogue and I am no different. Having not heard their new double album ‘Stadium Arcadium’ I was interested in what new things they could bring to the table in the xenith of their careers. From the opening chords of ‘Can’t Stop’ All the way through the the stupendous ‘Give It Away’ The Chili Peppers delivered the goods. We were treated to a sumtuous solo perfomance of the Bee Gees classic ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ by John Frusciante midset plus all the standard Chili Peppers singles which have been all over our radios for the past two decades. Enjoyable.
The atmosphere of a festival can be made or broken by the weather and luckily the sun was in the sky for the revellers on sunday. The Pet Sounds arena brought kooky Russian born Regina Spektor to the stage. Her songs were simple and enigmatic with enough hooks and originality to secure one of the most rewarding perfomances of the weekend. Following Regina Spektor were indie darlings Animal Collective. The band were heavier and louder than I had expected, with the distortion cranked up and about half their set fairly punishing (to my delicate ears) noise breaks. The catchier songs from their back catalogue were absent and I found their set quite difficult to get to grips with especially when hungover at 3pm.
Lily Allen has been cultivating a tidal wave of hype from all areas of the British music press. The tabloids, broadsheets and NME cannot get enough of her and with her current single ‘Smile’ reaching number one today I was curious to see what the fuss was all about. I was left irritated. Her ghetto princess schtick didn’t wash with me but the Scots were lapping her annoying brand of cod reggae right up. There is more than a whiff of novelty about Lily Allen but I fully expect her bubble to get bigger and then burst somewhere around October.
I was eagerly waiting next act Phoenix with bated breath. They are simply one of the most underrated bands around. All three of their albums are at such a consistently good level its a wonder they are playing to a half-full tent. Kicking things off with ‘Napoleon Says’ the charismatic Frenchmen played all the prime cuts from recent long player ‘It’s Never Been Like That’ a long with bits and pieces from their excellent back catalogue. With the World Cup Final looming, Phoenix played with a ballsy gallic coolness that has made them such a reliably excellent outfit both live and on record. Allez Francais!
After catching the end of The Arctic Monkeys set we headed off to The Main Stage to see The Strokes. ‘First Impressions Of Earth’ is a vastly underappreciated album and stands far taller than disapointing sophomore effort ‘Room On Fire’ for sheer scope and ambition. Casablancas was clearly fired up about something as he ripped through set opener ‘Juicebox’ with real vigour. The new songs such as ‘Ize Of The World’ and ‘Vision Of Division’ sounded great alongside such bonafide crowd pleasers such as ‘Last Night’ and ‘Reptilia’. The Strokes really are in a class of their own and are probably at the peak of the powers. Enjoy the Strokes now, because they will surely go down as one of the all-time greats.
Watch highlights and listen to some sets over at the BBC’s dedicated T in the Park site.