One of the biggest dilemmas of my life came when the T in the Park 2014 lineup was released. To go and enjoy a great number of my favourite bands or to stay and attend my graduation as well as watch the final of the World Cup? Eventually, it was decided that a festival so perfect wouldn’t come along as often as the World Cup final would and none of my friends were attending graduation hence Emma and I turned up in Balado on Thursday 10th July. The prospect of seeing Kaiser Chiefs, Imagine Dragons, Franz Ferdinand and Ben Howard amongst others meant we instantly realised we had made the right decision.
Our only concerns had been about some potential Friday clashes, as for some reason the poster and app had implied we wouldn’t be able to see Maxïmo Park and possibly Chvrches. Rather luckily however, we had read it wrong and we were able to go and see both, as well as Imagine Dragons. Another band we were there for were the Friday main stage headliners, Biffy Clyro. Sheltering from the sweltering sun, we also caught Foxes set, a singer songwriter we had heard rave reviews about. Here is our summary of the day:
Maxïmo Park – Radio 1 Stage, 16:40 – 17:30:
Reviewed by Gareth
Having been a Maxïmo fan since their first album but never getting the chance to see them, I was understandably excited about the prospect of attending this 50 minute slot. For me, a festival slot should be packed full of hits with one or two album songs thrown in if you can. At the end of the day, you pay money to see a number of bands and you want to hear the songs you know. In that regard, Maxïmo could not have delivered a more perfect set!
Their fifth album, Too Much Information was released in February and they opened the set with Give, Get, Take – the opening song on that album. This, My Bloody Mind, Her Name Was Audre and The National Health were the only album tracks they played and the first three were taken from TMI. Way back in 2005, the first album A Certain Trigger was nominated for that years Mercury Prize and was commercially successful mainly due to the three hits Graffiti, Apply Some Pressure and Going Missing. All three songs were played, as well as their first UK number one, Our Velocity, and fellow singles from Maxïmo’s second album, Our Earthly Pleasures, Books From Boxes and Girls Who Play Guitars. With a solid base of these hits, the T crowd were in full sing along mood and the lead singer, Paul Smith, was as energetic as ever (including a run along the front row high fiving us during the set closer, Going Missing). Thrown in amongst these were Leave This Island, The Kids Are Sick Again, Hips and Lips and Midnight On The Hill which meant they played a set entailing all their albums and songs which everyone knew.
Overall, this was a set full of singing, jumping and endless energy. For a first Maxïmo gig it was well worth the wait, seeing all their biggest hits and proving that, despite the fact they aren’t as big as they were, there is still a lot of life left in this band. Paul Smith’s voice is clear and sounds just as good as it does on record, despite all the running around he does. He did his signature jump a number of times, and is a true showman. An incredible live band who know how to play a festival, definitely one I would recommend and want to see again! For a 50 minute set, 14 songs was an impressive achievement. They are a well oiled live outfit and that makes seeing them immensely fun for everyone.
Gareth’s rating: 8/10, Favourite song: Books From Boxes
As a newcomer to the Maxïmo Park scene, their performance showed me their true excellence given that they proved to me that they are not only good on CD but are also incredible live so I would throughly recommend seeing them.
Emma’s rating: 7/10, Favourite song: Girls Who Play Guitars
Imagine Dragons – Main Stage, 18:05 – 18:50:
Reviewed by Emma
I was first introduced to Imagine Dragons by my English teacher a few years ago when he decided to play their video for Radioactive purely because he thought it was “cool”. I agreed with him quite quickly seeing as the video is somewhat odd and therefore I loved it because who can resist a video with teddy bears fighting in? Seriously, it is worth a watch. Imagine Dragons have catchy, upbeat songs which can entice most people who enjoy rock/pop including my mum who now listens to them non stop. Therefore, I was more than excited to see them live and I had high expectations seeing as their songs are great on CD. It was unfortunate to say I was slightly disappointed.
It is strange when a band begin a festival set with a bonus track from their album and it is even more weird when it isn’t even on their hard copy album with bonus tracks – only the iTunes version. I’m not saying that Fallen isn’t a good song because I expect it would be however I haven’t ever really listened to it. The next part that befuddled me was the fact they riffed a lot meaning by the end of their set they had only played seven songs in total. Fallen was followed by Tiptoe which is an album song and therefore more understandable although it is incredibly strange seeing as they didn’t play one of their main singles, Demons. The next two songs Hear Me and It’s Time seemed good live although we couldn’t hear very well from we were standing (the whole gig would’ve been better if we were in a different place). My favourite song of their set was a cover which you could say shows something however it was more because the crowd went mental because of course a Scottish crowd love the fact they played a I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) by the Proclaimers. The whole crowd sang, jumped and enjoyed their cover of this well known Scottish song so it was truly wonderful. They finished their set with their two popular singles On Top of the World and Radioactive which were a great choice to end with as the whole crowd knew them and so the atmosphere was buzzing.
At the end of the day I believe that Imagine Dragons are great live however I would prefer to see them in their own gig as then the riffing would be fantastic to watch and the sound quality would be better. However, I think that at a festival they shouldn’t have played as many album songs as they needed to play Demons as it is an incredibly popular song.
Emma’s rating: 5/10, Favourite song: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
I first heard of Imagine Dragons when Emma gave me their CD to listen to, although I had heard On Top of the World on FIFA. Having fallen in love with their album, I was immensely excited to see them live especially to hear Demons, Radioactive and a possible album track such as Working Man or Amsterdam, and as it was their first album I was hopeful. I wasn’t completely disappointed by the set and 500 Miles was a lot of fun but it was slightly upsetting not to see most of my favourites. That being said, they are clearly very talented and I would pay to see them again.
Gareth’s rating: 5/10, Favourite song: Radioactive
Chvrches – King Tut’s Wah Wah Tent, 19:20 – 20:20:
Reviewed by Gareth
Chvrches were the first, and still only, band I have bought an album of upon recommendation of my sister. I wasn’t disappointed, as The Bones of What You Believe has quickly become one of my favourite albums from the last couple of years. In the first week I bought it I must have listened to it in full about 7 or 8 times and so I was very excited when I found out they were playing at T.
After leaving the chaos that was main stage, we headed towards the tent with the plan to stop and get some food. What we hadn’t considered was the sheer mass of people doing the same. So, without food and fairly desperate for a piss, we decided to risk seeing Chvrches first. The back of the stage was set up to look like the album cover, and the Scottish crowd went crazy for their opening song, We Sink. Song after song from their album followed with Lies, Lungs, Gun and Night Sky being played in quick succession. Singing slightly lower than she does on the album, Lauren Mayberry introduced a bonus track on the album, Strong Hand before telling the crowd not to throw piss at one another. Clearly very comfortable with a big crowd, they played Science/Visions, Recover, Tether, Under The Tide, By The Throat before ending with The Mother We Share. They only didn’t play one song from the album, You Caught The Light, instead throwing in a bonus track which was more energetic and better anyway so this, for me, was a perfect set list.
In fact, my only criticism would be the sound in King Tut’s not being to the standard that the other stages possess. That being said, the crowd loved seeing a Scottish band taking the first step along the way to possibly headlining a festival one day, the songs were still as catchy as they are on the LP and it was a throughly enjoyable experience. They aren’t quite as comfortable live as the likes of Maxïmo are, but they are well on their way.
Gareth’s rating: 7/10. Favourite song: Tether
I would love to see Chvrches again as they were incredible live and I would know their songs better as well as not being desperate for a piss or for food. Also, I think the acoustics for their songs would be better in a different venue and not the tent because sometimes it was a little too overpowering in there.
Emma’s rating: 7/10. Favourite song: Night Sky
Ed Sheeran – Main Stage, 20:40 – 21:40
Reviewed by Emma
I’ve liked Ed Sheeran on and off for a few years now first discovering him via a few friends who showed me The A Team video on Youtube. Instantly I loved the song, the simplistic guitar with his beautiful voice is difficult to dislike in my opinion, however, recently it has been more difficult to like him when he started collaborating with artists like Pharrell Williams. Originally, this seems like Ed Sheeran has become a fame seeker who is trying to get a number one single and more fans which is hypocritical when he sings in You Need Me, I Don’t Need You “I will never be product of my genre/My mind will always be stronger like my songs are”. Although, Ed seems like a genuine, nice, down to earth guy so I am conflicted in whether to believe he would want to collaborate for fame so for the moment I would prefer to think he had his reasons.
Having seen Ed before in Nottingham I had no doubt he would be great live. It is obvious to see he has a talent at controlling a crowd by making them sing, be silent and often telling them that if they don’t know the words to just make them up and sing along anyway. It is a wonderful thing to see when an artist can completely control a crowd and encourage them to just purely have a great time. Unfortunately, we missed the first few minutes of Ed’s first song You Need Me, I Don’t Need You as we were getting our tea however it is safe to say this is an amazing song live (as I have seen it before). He extends this song to become ten minutes of genius creating the whole track using a loop pedal, splitting the crowd into two sections getting them to sing two different melodies and just causally rapping other songs. This was followed by one of his popular songs from +, Lego House, which does not disappoint live – in fact I would say it is better live. Next, he played three songs from his new album X, Don’t, I’m a Mess and Thinking Out Loud. Seeing as I had been apprehensive about buying the album, considering his current single Sing isn’t to my taste, he convinced me his new album is definitely worth a listen. Basically, Ed played all his singles from the first album, new album and a few album tracks from the new album so next was Give Me Love, a single from the first album, which again demonstrates his ability with a loop pedal is truly incredible creating harmonisations near the end of the song. I See Fire, his soundtrack for The Hobbit and bonus track on his new album, is a beautiful song live. This was the first time I had heard it all the way through and I would love to see it again. Finally, Ed Sheeran ended with his two top singles, The A Team and Sing, both surprisingly good (as Pharrell didn’t turn up for Sing) so overall Ed’s set was very well done.
I don’t have any faults for this performance, apart from Sing being a little annoying as a first single but even that is much better live, as he is a genuine talent for the music industry as well as a down to earth guy who can control almost any crowd. At times, Ed can seem a little awkward but that is part of his charm so I would seriously recommend seeing him live if you enjoy his music or if you just want to have a bit of fun.
Emma’s rating: 9/10. Favourite Song: You Need Me, I Don’t Need You
I missed all the Ed Sheeran hype, writing him off as just another one of those overrated pop acts. My opinion has been completely changed since seeing him live. Down to earth, the lyrics to You Need Me, I Don’t Need You are wonderful for how much he attacks the flawed music industry and he seems like such a pleasant lad. So yeah, fair to say he impressed me.
Gareth’s rating: 7/10. Favourite Song: You Need Me, I Don’t Need You
Biffy Clyro – Main Stage, 22:20 – 23:50
Reviewed by both
The headliner we were both most excited for were Biffy Clyro, the topless Scottish three-piece. Gareth had seen them once before, while Emma was seeing them for the first time. Biffy have combined their original disjointed riffs, weird song compositions and lyrics that make little sense with a pop element, which since Puzzle has given them increasing chart success. Headlining a festival for (almost) the last time before they head off to make another album in their homeland made this gig a perfect recipe for success.
Biffy are a band who truly cater for their fans at live gigs, even at festivals regularly playing album tracks from any of their 6 releases. Their set at T was no exception, with Woo Woo, Whorses and Questions and Answers making an appearance. Emma had been hoping for Spanish Radio, Christopher’s River, Victory Over the Sun and Folding Stars and wasn’t totally disappointed as the latter two were played. Opening the set with Different People, Biffy then launched into That Golden Rule and The Captain, which got the crowd singing and jumping along. Unsurprisingly, the crowd knew Many of Horror, Who’s Got a Match? and Biblical best, with the Opposites album tracks such as Sounds Like Balloons also popular. Clearly blown over by the massive crowd, Simon Neil seemed very emotional throughout the gig especially during the solo acoustic renditions of God & Satan and one of his tributes to his late mother, Machines (played at the start of the encore). Another sentimental moment came when Biffy played 57, introducing it as one of the songs they played on the T-Break stage before getting signed. One of my favourite sections of the gig were the two brilliant songs which have long intros, Glitter and Trauma and Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies which led to Many of Horror, Woo Woo, Black Chandelier and then ending with Bubbles. The encore began with Machines, before changing pace dramatically with Stingin’ Belle (complete with bagpipes) and ending with Mountains, all of which which were hugely well received and Biffy left to the hero reception they deserve. Bagpipes, pyrotechnics and fireworks – this truly was a gig not to be missed.
Obviously, Biffy Clyro are a must see due to being a truly excellent live band. They were a perfect headliner for T in the Park so hopefully they will play there many more times in the future and personally we believe they would’ve been better suited to end the festival (no doubt with the bagpipes). The Scottish crowd clearly loved them, the atmosphere throughout their performance was incredible and there is not one song that wasn’t flawless. To sum it up, Biffy Clyro are a spectacular Scottish trio.
Our rating: 10/10. Our favourite song: Glitter and Trauma
Shading from the sun we caught Neon Jungle and Foxes. Despite not knowing her songs we thoroughly enjoyed Foxes and have bought her album since. The same can not be said for Neon Jungle, who apparently have had a UK top 10 song. They were absolutely shocking. The fact one of their songs has been a hit just sums up how much bollocks the charts are.