Review: T In The Park, 2003, NME Stage

Underworld, The Streets, Turin Brakes, The Roots, Inspiral Carpets, The Cooper Temple Clause, Hell Is For Heroes, The Raveonettes, Longview...

“Lager Lager Lager” booms ‘Born Slippy’ – but we know it’s all a lie. This stage may have been the grounds for witnessing more alcohol consumption than a George Best new liver-warming party, but when Underworld bring the

thudding beats people suddenly forget the lake of Tennents inside them and their eyes go really wide. Anyone who thought dance music was invisible this year should think again – the stunning 20 minutes electronic freak out of ‘Rez’ is a thrilling head rush without straying near the pretensions that description might suggest. And as for the newer songs, ‘Dinosaur Adventure 3D’ reinforces the message that it’ll be a while before Underworld tone things down at all. Over in the X Tent, Rapture are making a thrilling dance-rock noise. But if they really wanna reclaim the dancefloor they’ll have to wrestle it out of the hands of the dance lords first.

Streets‘ Mike Skinner sings about brawling, getting pissed to the gills and generally having a brilliant time. Only if he came onstage in a kilt and played Proclaimers songs on the bagpipes could his set be any more in tune with the crowd. He does sour relationships a little with some rambling about ‘Braveheart’. Luckily, ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’ makes up for things by starting a party, whereas ‘Too Much Brandy’ incites some drunken party head to get on their mates shoulders and flash their genitals. Spot on geezah!

Perhaps if we’d spent the day being force-fed space cakes made from the

finest herbs of the Highlands, Turin Brakes would be a welcome addition to the bill. But with a crowd baying for the lager lager lager philosophy set out by today’s headliners, things are a bit to claustrophobic and

puke-stained to really tune into their vibe.

Roots might be peddling a fairly well-trodden hip-hop path but their eclectic headfuck of soulful funk, rattling beats and, erm, wild west interludes causes the crowd to go bounce-crazed ballistic. Roots are fond of spreading the good word, and today they give T the perfect good-time message: We’re gonna party, like it’s your (tenth) birthday.

Inspiral Carpets arrive onstage to take us back to the days when drugs actually worked. And we mean really worked. Seriously, back in the day you could get so zonked that organ-soaked gonzo attacks like ‘Saturn Five’ were not seen as indie disco fodder but as a genuine top night out.

Marginally less agonising than their Glasto horrorshow, Hell Is For Heroes continue in their struggle to make sprawling prog-flavoured wail-rock work on a large stage. Wisely, they give up midway through and concentrate on causing frenzied crowd-electrocution with the noise meltdown of ‘Let’s Kill Music’. Best of all, techno-titan ‘Panzer Attack’ almost threatens Hell Is For Heroes for the coveted mosh anthem of the day.

There are a few technical hitches before Hell Is For Heroes convert their wild-eyed energy into something that doesn’t scare the shit out of our eardrums. Once they hit their flow however, we get pogo-tastic renditions of ‘I Can Climb Mountains’ and The Cure’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ that leave crowd members thrilled and not a little damp from flying pints of warm beer.

Ideally, Madness would only ever play in basement crack dens with malfunctioning electric mains circuits in them. Their sound is far too intense for the clear blue skies, that much is true. But with the thrilling ‘Attack Of The Ghost Riders’ and ‘Let’s Rave On’, they make lazing around a mid-afternoon NME stage feel like being strapped into an electric chair whilst Smiths are let loose on the controls. Only in an utterly essential way, obviously.

The same inappropriate surroundings can be applied for Longview as well, whose opening mix of [a][/a]-esque gloom and indie strumming doesn’t fit in

with the clear Kinross skies. Their trick is to lace their melancholy with melody, however, leaving our hearts as warm as our sunburnt heads.

Tim Jonze