T In The Park 2003 : NME Stage

The Music, Polyphonic Spree, Super Furry Animals, John Squire, Kings Of Leon, Snow Patrol, Turbonegro, The Warlocks

They might not be old enough to hire cars yet, but that doesn’t stop The Music blowing the roof off the NME stage (if it had one) and easily stealing the show. Live, the album sounds even more passionate than the record might have shown. The guitar is breezier, the bass chunkier, and everyone seems to be affected from the girls flashing their breasts to – oddly – the man in the Ronald Reagan rubber mask. Robert Harvey might sound like Michael Jackson on helium with his high-pitched “thank you’s” between songs. But with songs like ‘The Truth Is No Words’ and fantastic newy ‘Come What May’ under their belt, and a tenth of the crowd has cause to fiddle nervously with their finally out-dated Stone Roses T-Shirts. Even the half-time instrumental delay-peddle noodlings has people questioning where they can buy it (on the first EP, of course.) If this is *the* music, The Music are the future of rock and roll.

Just before the number of people on stage might rival the queue outside T In the Park’s most busy Portaloo. “They make me so happy,” mutters one joyful punter. Never have the lyrics “until the fool becomes the king” rung more true. Hard to tell if you’ve just seen a band or signed up to a new religion. May The Polyphonic Spree have mercy on your soul.

It’s a stage-full of musicians dressed up as yetis banging steel drums. It can only be The Super Fury Animals. The handclaps ring proud for single “Golden Retriever”, but the crowd are clearly won over before first track “Mountain People” is over, in spite of the Furry’s tendencies to insist their live performances continue to sound as rough and ready as a badger’s anus.

Mid set, an unshaven and freshly-bearded John Squire delights the audience by playing The Roses’ ‘How Do You Sleep’, but ruins it all by trying to sing in a pitch that makes grown men cry. Having said that, he seems to find his voice more on Newy ‘Summertime’, and – regardless of voice wobbles – the punters lap him up a treat throughout.

It’s with arrival of the sun and The Kings Of Leon that the NME stage is truly open for business. Clean, crisp, and neatly combed – and that’s just the moustaches, the Kings baffle as much they soothe, and in the afternoon sun, their unique brand of modest country rock slips down a treat.

Snow Patrol offer some polite but chugging verse-chorus-verses, but as well as looking like they’re about to be called back to re-sit their A-Levels at any minute, their songwriting skills need a bit of a re-visit too. The epic finale ‘You Ain’t Gonna Be Around For Long’ is very much to the contrary, but finally it finishes, and the crowd departs. Tries Hard, Could Do Better all round, lads.

Turbonegro are ten percent music and ninety percent silly hats (baseball, sailor and Russian), make-up, and wobbling Norwegian beer bellies crooning singing songs about erections guaranteed to “find every G-Spot in the audience,” just in case anyone really is that desperate. Less band, more Panto, although that’s not necessary a bad thing.

Grey clouds hang ominously over Kincross. An even bigger mound of dark poodle hair hangs over Bobby Warlock’s head as he rounds up the vocally terrifying, why-doesn’t-someone-offer-that-man-a-Strepsil opening set of the day. The Warlocks can play, but as the clouds lift, the tunes fail to shine through. Something is amiss, apart from the crowd.

Rich Pelley