RADIOHEAD made their long awaited return to Glasgow on Friday night as the very first edition of TRNSMT Festival got off to a flying start at Glasgow Green.
Taking to the stage at around half nine, the indie giants proceeded to deliver two and a half hours of blistering highs and sobering lows to a devoted audience who were left utterly mesmerised by every glorious minute they spent onstage. It was a set that appealed to both loyal fans and those there to see the hits as Thom Yorke and co took the Scottish faithful on a trip through more than two decades of their music.
Marking their first appearance in Scotland since 2008, it was no surprise to see the five-piece receive the kind of cathartic reception reserved for true musical greats. A band whose constant evolution has left many of their peers lying by the wayside, we were treated to all sides of their wide and varied repertoire; the scale of which was quite frankly astonishing to witness. From the opening OK Computer double-header ‘Let Down’ and ‘Lucky’ to the thunderous ‘Full Stop’ from A Moon Shaped Pool, it felt like you were watching the work of more than one band across the night; such has been the extent of the band’s creative ingenuity over the years.
Poor sound and a restless Glasgow audience meant that the gig lost some of its energy in the middle; it’s fair to say that some stages of Radiohead’s career are as divisive as their politics (there is a notable amount of Palestinian flags are spread throughout the audience in response to their decision to play Israel in a couple of weeks). However, a truly world-class double encore ensured the night ended in euphoric fashion. In the enviable position of being able to cherry pick massive songs from each innovative moment of their career, fans were treated to epic rendition of ‘Paranoid Android’ before crowd favourite ‘Fake Plastic Trees’.
From the moment he entered the stage, Thom Yorke held a captivating presence; with little to no chat in-between songs, his spell-binding showmanship was never more potent than on the world-weary ‘No Surprises’. It was a spine-tingling moment that will live long in the memory as the line ‘’Bring down the government, they don’t speak for us’ was met with a resounding cheer around Glasgow Green. As recent sets have shown, the band have rekindled their love for earlier material; their decision to revisit some old favourites at their recent shows eliciting near hysteria from their avid fanbase.
Having surprised fans in Manchester during the week, the band rewarded the Glasgow audience for their patience over the years with a glorious take on ‘The Bends’. Sounding every bit as fresh as it did all those years ago, it crashed to life and soared over the crowd as Jonny Greenwood’s heroic guitar work rang around the Green. However, it was left to ‘Karma Police’ to bring the night to an emotional end as bodies were thrown on top of shoulders to belt out its euphoric chorus. Strumming his guitar in its final tender moments, Thom Yorke’s final line hung in the air before the lights went up to signal the end of a glorious night.
Although Radiohead were very much the star attraction of the opening day, TRNSMT’s three stages had plenty to offer the buzzing crowds from the moment gates opened. The King Tut’s stage was all about showcasing homegrown talent in the afternoon with standout performances from The Vegan Leather and Be Charlotte. Both attracted impressive crowds and will have won over many new fans in the process. The former confirmed their reputation as one of Scotland’s most exciting up and coming live bands with a scintillating preview of upcoming single ‘Eyes’ before a timely crowd jump during massive track ‘This House’. Already cult favourites in the Glasgow music scene, this was a special moment for the four-piece which will hopefully lead to more exciting times ahead. Meanwhile, Be Charlotte left the crowd at a standstill with her soulful vocals on ‘Firing Squad’ before bouncing into the infectious pop numbers such as ‘One Drop’ and ‘Machines That Breathe’.
Special mention must also go to SAHARA who packed out the Jack Rocks stage with their jangly brand of indie-pop before Liverpool’s Louis Berry took to the King Tut’s stage in gorgeous sunshine. Boasting a unique whisky soaked drawl and vintage rock & roll sound to match, the fiercely talented singer-songwriter displayed his star quality on crowd favourites ‘Restless’ and ’25 Reasons’. Berry will surely attract the crowds once again when he returns to Glasgow later this year for our very own Tenement Trail.
With a tangible buzz in the air ahead of Radiohead’s highly anticipated headline set, Glasgow stalwarts Belle & Sebastian got the party in full flow with a triumphant set that saw people dancing on the stage and all over the Green to ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’ and more. Playing one of their biggest shows in the city to date in the bask of warm sunshine, they undoubtedly provided one of the highlights of the day with frontman Stuart Murdoch addressing the crowd: ““Welcome to Glasgow Green everybody, this is your park, enjoy your evening”.
The weather was even kinder to Glasgow Green on Saturday as Day Two of TRNSMT got underway with clear blue skies and glorious sunshine. It’s fair to say that Friday night headliners Radiohead were a distant memory as around 50,000 people packed into the park for a day of swaggering guitar tunes and beer-fuelled partying.
Attracting its first sold-out crowd of the weekend, the line-up on the Main Stage ensured that the crowd was an entirely different beast from the one which had attended the previous day; there was definitely a buzzing party atmosphere in the air with bars bursting full all day and mosh pits opening up from the early stages of the afternoon. Circa Waves proved an early highlight, performing a mix of material from their two albums Young Chasers and Different Creatures. A band who have made significant waves over the past 12 months, they attracted a massive crowd who lapped up every moment from the jangly indie-pop of ‘Get Away’ and ‘Stuck In My Teeth’ to the fiery punk energy of ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Fire That Burns’. It was appropriately left to the band’s signature track ‘T-Shirt Weather’ to see the set out in jubilant fashion.
With the Main Stage boasting some of the biggest names in the UK such as Stormzy, The Kooks and George Ezra, the King Tut’s stage once again hosted some Scotland’s best homegrown talent. The Van T’s and Gerry Cinnamon both attracted healthy crowds in the afternoon despite facing some strong opposition across the site. A band who continue to grow in stature with each impressive performance, the glittered-up Van T’s struck an effortlessly cool presence in the warm glow of the sun. Armed with silky smooth harmonies, a fiercely tight rhythm section and an insatiable ear for melody, the four-piece rattled through songs such as ‘Laguna Babe’ and ‘Blood Orange’ alongside their most recent single ‘Fresh Meat’. If the new material is anything to go by, it seems that everything is starting to fall into place for the talented four-piece.
Given a hero’s reception as he entered the stage, Gerry Cinnamon had the crowd belting out the words to many of his most heartfelt songs while the Jack Rocks stage hosted up and coming indie rockers Judas, reminiscent of Catfish & the Bottlemen with their hook-laden anthemic rock and powerful lead vocals. Arriving with an undeniable swagger and refreshing multi-layered sound, local favourites Medicine Men treated the crowd to a plethora of tracks from their brilliant debut album Into The Light such as ‘Show What You’re Made Of’ and ‘Out Of The Light’.
On the same stage, those looking for a break from the sunshine were rewarded with a mesmerising performance from Neon Waltz. The six-piece from Caithness have established themselves as one of Scotland’s most talented emerging outfits in recent years with one impressive release after another; so it was no surprise to see the tent bursting full of fans and intrigued punters alike. From the swelling emotive sounds of ‘Heavy Heartless’ to tender ballad ‘I Fall Asleep’, Jordan Shearer’s delicate lead vocals soared over the band’s wonderfully layered instrumentation to great effect. With their long awaited debut album due out in August and an appearance lined up at our very own Tenement Trail later this year, it goes without saying that Neon Waltz are poised for big things.
One band who have very much lived up to early predictions are Catfish & the Bottlemen. Having appeared on the T Break stage just three years ago at T in the Park, Van McCann and co have transformed into a bonafide indie-rock phenomenon in recent years. With a notable number of Catfish t-shirts appearing all over the site throughout the day, it was clear that they were one of the main draws for festival-goers; easily attracting one of the biggest and rowdiest crowds of the weekend before headliners Kasabian. Now a highly accomplished and formidable live act, the band rattled through crowd favourites such as ‘Kathleen’, ‘Soundcheck’ and ‘Pacifier’; inciting mass chaos as bodies were thrown on shoulders and beers were thrown in the air. Clearly enjoying every minute, McCann let his music do the talking before rewarding the crowd with a quick rendition of ‘Glasgow’; its lyrics about a drunken night on Sauchiehall Street, familiar to so many, bellowed back by the appreciative audience.
It was left to headlining veterans Kasabian to end Saturday night on a euphoric high. Now accustomed to topping bills all over the world, the indie rock giants performed a career-spanning set which confirmed their reputation as one of the best live acts around. Opening with the typically bold and confrontational ‘Ill Ray (The King)’, they peppered their two hour set with hit after hit from all six albums; from ‘Empire’, ‘Shoot The Runner’, ‘Eez-eh’ to ‘Underdog’. Draping a Saltire across his shoulders to the appreciation of the frenzied crowd, Serge Pizzorno took centre stage for the tantalising ‘Treat’ after dedicating recent single ‘You’re In Love With a Psycho’ to Trainspotting’s Bobby Carlyle, who was seen enjoying the show from the side of stage. It was the endearing bromance between Tom Meighan and Serge Pizzorno which really came to the fore though; exchanging smiles and egging each other on from the moment they swaggered onto the stage.
With the atmosphere building to an almighty climax, flares were set alight and chaos ensued for a thrilling encore which featured a one-two punch in the shape of ‘Vlad The Impaler’ and ‘Fire’. “You crazy bunch of jocks” Meighan declared as the whole field began jumping in tandem. Utterly rousing and brilliantly hedonistic from start to end, it was another glorious finale to a second triumphant day at TRNSMT.
The skies may have opened on Day Three but it didn’t stop the Glasgow crowds arriving in their droves to catch an early set by Dundee stalwarts The View. Sporting an eye-catching pair of yellow dungarees, Kyle Falconer led the band through a typically raucous set of classics such as ‘Superstar Trademan’, ‘Same Jeans’ and ‘How Long’; provoking an enthusiastic response from the mosh-pit ready crowds at the front, despite the weather.
The Main Stage boasted a particularly strong line-up on Sunday with an accomplished set from Stockport outfit Blossoms early in the afternoon. Opting for a dangerously bold all-white flared combo, Tom Ogden and co paid heed to their 70s disco influences with a surprising rendition of ABBA in the middle of album track ‘Texia’ before hitting out with radio-friendly hits ‘Getaway’, ‘Charlemagne’ and ‘Blown Rose’. Strutting around the stage with the unwavering confidence of a more established outfit, Ogden picked a woman out of the crowd who had just been dumped and dedicated ‘My Favourite Room’ to her; not before leading a chorus of boos against her ex, of course.
Glasgow favourites Twin Atlantic followed up with one of the most memorable shows of the day. Telling the hometown crowd that they make their music just a few hundred yards up the road, there was an immense sense of pride in watching the four-piece boss the TRNSMT stage with hit after hit from their three respective albums. Armed with jettisons of confetti and bold pyrotechnics, Sam McTrusty once again proved his credentials as a formidable frontman with some captivating showmanship; effortlessly working the crowd from behind his guitar on old favourites ‘Free’ and ‘Yes I Was Drunk’ to throwing himself into the crowd on the ferocious ‘No Sleep’.
Over on the King Tut’s stage, rising star Lewis Capaldi delivered a rousing performance which more than lived up to his growing reputation as one of Scotland’s most exciting young talents. Attracting a healthy crowd late in the afternoon, it’s fair to say that the singer will have won over a lot of new fans after TRNSMT. With an astounding vocal and songwriting ability to match, it’s easy to see why Capaldi has been making waves around Europe and further afield with songs such as ‘Bruises’ and ‘Lost On You’ in his arsenal.
With plenty of local talent on show throughout the day, it was left to blues-rockers Tijuana Bibles to set the Jack Rocks stage alight with a thunderous display of new track ‘Pariah’. Having re-emerged from the studio with a host of new material, we can’t wait to see what else is in store for the group after this performance. Elsewhere, Two Door Cinema Club had the crowd dancing at the Main Stage with funk-laden tracks ‘Bad Decisions’ and ‘Are We Ready’ from their latest album alongside classic indie dancefloor fillers ‘I Can Talk’ and ‘Undercover Martyn’.
Set to make their Tenement Trail debut later this year, Clean Cut Kid injected some sunny good-time vibes into the damp crowd with brilliantly addictive tunes such as ‘Vitamin C’ and ‘Felt’. Pairing romance and heartbreak with a host of uplifting, scuzzy pop melodies, the band will be a must-see when they come back to Glasgow in September.
With so much to see throughout the day, the crowds congregated back at the Main Stage in the early evening to see The 1975. “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your favourite band The 1975”, frontman Matty Healy declared as he made his highly anticipated appearance. Once again partaking in his signature tongue-in-cheek rock & roll facade, he freely roamed the stage shamelessly and seductively on popular tracks such as ‘Love Me’, ‘Ugh’ and ‘Heart Out’ while drawing a hysteric reaction from the mostly young audience.
There was time for sincerity as well though. “We wanna be a band that stands for equality. We don’t like nationalism, racism or ostracising people based on the way they look or what they do with their genitals… We need to be young and liberal and beautiful. I don’t want to preach, but it seems like I actually do…” Healy addressed the crowd before performing one of their most heartfelt tracks ‘Loving Someone’.
A slick exercise in mainstream pop/rock, it surely won’t be long until the Manchester band are headlining events of this magnitude. On Sunday night though, those duties were handed to national treasures Biffy Clyro. Having worked their way up from being T Break alumni to veteran headliners, it was hard to think of a more appropriate band to close the inaugural edition of TRNSMT than the Ayrshire trio.
Making their bare-chested appearance with some eye-popping sequined trousers to match, Biffy launched into the euphoric ‘Wolves of Winter’ before tearing through a slew of alt-rock anthems from their rich and varied back catalogue. Hits such as ‘Who’s Got A Match’, ‘That Golden Rule’ and ‘Many Of Horror’ were bolstered by a fiery display of pyrotechnics, flares and confetti canons, while their most dedicated fans were treated to old gems such as ’57’ and ‘There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake’. It all came together to create a truly momentous show; one that Simon Neil described as their “favourite show in Scotland”.
Bringing the festival to an end with national favourite ‘Stingin’ Belle’, the enduring love shared between the Scottish crowds and Biffy Clyro was clear for all to see as the curtain went up on a fantastic weekend.