Saturday, July 09, 2005


It's not immediately apparent why the BBC - which had some problems squaring public service and impartially last week to cover Live 8 - is so keen to give so much air time to the T in the Park festival. The whole thing is, after all, an elaborate advert for a brand of beer, from title downwards; more to the point, since all you're getting is a watered down Glastonbury bill, there's a question about who's hanging on for this show. We understand the value of the festival - being there, seeing the acts in the flesh; a second chance to see your heroes right in front of you if you missed the chance of seeing them at Glasto. But if you missed them on the TV at Glasto, surely all you need is a highlights programme or bittorrent?

Everything about this year's coverage feels a little tired - Edith Bowmann, coming after a fortnight doing fieldwork for Pilton and Geldofest looks like she's desperate to be inside a proper studio; she's supported by Dougie Anderson, a man who clearly could step into Patrick Kielty's shoes at a moment's notice; it's that fact alone which stops people wrapping Kielty's house in flypaper and trapping him forever inside.

The tiredness and the way festivals just swallow the music industry whole is apparent in the backstage interviews, too - everyone's tales are of other festivals: Peter Hook talks about watching people in a Belgian festival last week; Brandon Flowers recalls Glastonbury; and on it goes - a tented village moving from one field at the end of a motorway to another.

Brandon Flowers, it's worth mentioning, does his interview wearing really cheap looking Chanel sunglasses - exactly like Saira from The Apprentice; Tom Audioslave is also doing a Saira tribute, bellowing his between songs chats - although, Audioslave's taking of a sledgehammer to a song, reducing it to rubble and then rebuilding it in a well-meaning but largely forgotten good cause probably owes more to Extreme Makeover - Home Edition than The Apprentice.

The thinner bill means that a lot of bands get prime screen time on BBC THREE who at other festivals would have been tucked away behind press red, out of hours, and usually hidden by a secret code word on a distant page of CEEFAX. It's not always good news, as The Ordinary Boys are surprisingly off-form. Or perhaps down to their essential nature - wanting to be The Specials, they're at best more like Madness, but a Madness with more crazy dancing, less awareness and insight into the hopes and disappointments of everyday life. Striving for Two Tone, tonight at least, they're disappointingly monotone.

Since the reunion of the Pixies showed that not every burying of hatchets has to end in the sort of performances which are run through with the obvious torpor created by a remarriage of tax-bill convenience, there have been a slew of gettings together which have hoped to dip some beaks into the lucrative revenues offered by older, richer fans while still preserving credibility in the same way. The Las, to be honest, haven't quite managed it. It's not so much that John Power now looks like a Jim Henson tribute to himself, not that Lee Mavers years of smack have left him looking like a picture of Noel Gallagher drawn on Mick Jagger's testicle. No, the real disappointment is that they sound so ordinary and tired. They're so devoid of magic, when they play There She Goes, it sounds like they're doing a Sixpence None The Richer cover.

Sunday review


Anonymous said...

That's funny, because watching T in the Park last night, I was struck by a feeling of 'I wish I was there', that I just didn't have watching Glastonbury.

Also, I disagree that T has a thinner bill - compare the reaction the Foo Fighters got to the reaction the new, improved, less audience friendly White Stripes got. And Basement Jaxx indeed..

The nice thing about being at T, rather than Glasto, is that there are actually bands worth seeing in the afternoon, unlike Pilton, where there are so many stages and everything is so spread out that chances are, almost all the bands you want to see will be on at the same time at different ends of the tented city.

Ultimately, though, the reason T is on BBC Three is that BBC Scotland provides the coverage, and it's cheap. The big question is why on earth did they stop at 2300 to show an old Kevin Costner movie?

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Yes... I guess, in retropsect, "thinner" is a little unfair - what I mean is there are fewer bands than at Glastonbury (which does seem to offer every band known to man available for under a tenner) which means the producer has less to choose from - hence we get a shedload of Ordinary Boys, for example.

And: yes, I'd have quite happily been there. Maybe in that sense the coverage works, as the thought of slogging round the fields in person seems a lot less off-putting than watching the TV version...

Anonymous said...

Having been to T in the Park since 1998, I can categorically state that it really does piss all over the other festivals in the UK (and I include Glasto in that, and yes I have been to most of the others). The atmosphere is totally unriveled, everyone is just up for a cracking time, I think alot has to do with the amount of alcohol that gets consumed but more importantly the people dont have a problem dancing about and making twats of themselves without worrying what they look like or whether or not people are laughing at them!!

I am gutted that it is over, no joke! This years was the best so far and I cant wait til next year. Lets hope they do increase it to 100,000 each day and spread it across 3 days!!

One more point it shows you the effect it has on people when 25000 went on sale on Tuesday morning for next years event & sold out in 3 hours!!

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

I can see (in fact, I think I said) that it makes perfect sense as an event to go to; but from a TV spectacle point of view it does seem to be a procession of acts doing the same thing they did a couple of weeks before, only the long shots have a fairground and a mountain in rather than some men rolling in mud and a Tor.

Anonymous said...

ooh. looks like someone's getting a little bit pissy as T In The Park has now so clearly overtaken Glasto in every field it is actually rather pitiful.

i was there this year and the line-up was second to none, the atmosphere so friendly you wondered if tennants had run dry.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Yes, as I say (about 79 times, now) - as a festival to go to in a field it makes perfect sense; what I don't see is that it works as a TV event, where it comes across as "some of the bands you saw doing the same set on the same channel a couple of weeks ago"

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