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Review: Pop: Will Smith helps T in the Park go off with a bang: T in the Park Balado, Kinross 32/40

July 15, 2014

Graeme Virtue

He may be the Henry Ford of relentless electronic dance music but on paper, Calvin Harris looked to be the weakest of T in the Park's 2014 headliners. Arctic Monkeys, closing the 21st edition of Scotland's party-hearty festival, were coming off their strongest album in years and, tax wrangles aside, could point to a rollicking mandate: their booking was the result of a fan vote. Friday's closers Biffy Clyro had a narrative as rousing as their Mad Max pyrotechnics, finally headlining on the occasion of their 10th T appearance. "It's been a long time coming," admitted singer Simon Neil through sweat-soaked hair.

But Harris created the defining moment of the final T in the Park at Balado - it moves to a new site in 2015 - when he drafted in Will Smith to be his enthusiastic hype man. The oddness of seeing a Hollywood megastar at T seemed like proof that anything could happen, elevating a sodden, drizzly Saturday, and making Harris's thumper Summer sound less like a cosmic joke. There were other eccentric highlights. Warrior poet John Cooper Clarke managed to stick to his own rhythms while performing in the proximity of the relentless whump-whump of the Slam tent. Ellie Goulding was so determined to get the crowd jumping that her set resembled a Zumba class.

Before the Fresh Prince beamed down, the best celebrity shout-out was from DJ Locksmith of Rudimental: "I just met Gordon Strachan backstage!" Cheeky covers achieved peak incongruity. Foxes reactivated her Live Lounge mix of Massive Attack and Pharrell's Happy. Dan Reynolds successfully pronounced "haver" as Imagine Dragons clattered through I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles). The brilliant Kiesza, making the most of a ridiculously early Saturday slot, paid tribute to two songwriting greats with piano interpretations of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and What Is Love (Baby Don't Hurt Me) by Haddaway.

At times, T seemed to be modelling itself on catch-up TV. If you missed matriculated blues traveller George Ezra in a packed-out King Tut's tent, he popped up red-button-style on another stage a few hours later. And after delivering a thrilling set under canvas on Friday, Chvrches returned on Sunday as last-minute replacements for London Grammar. At the very least, it was proof-of-concept that their shivery synth melodrama works in the blazing sun as well as the shadows.

Graeme Virtue


The Henry Ford of electronic dance music . . . Calvin Harris with Will Smith at T in the Park Photograph Andrew Milligan/PA

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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