Fiona Shepherd remembers the first T in The Park
This weekend T In The Park makes the big flit to its new home at Strathallan Castle. We’re excited to find out how the new site shapes up but this dawning of a new era for Scotland’s biggest music festival has got us thinking about T in the Parks past.
Our guide Fiona was at the first ever T – and almost every T since, with the war stories to prove it. Here, she reminisces on two days in July 1994, spent in a country park on the outskirts of Glasgow. They said it would never work. Mounting a summer music festival in Scotland was sheer madness. There just wasn’t the audience to sustain it. And don’t get us started on the weather. But the T In The Park organisers proved that if you build it they will come in their droves.
These days T capacity is 85,000. That first year in Strathclyde Park, everyone was impressed when 17,000 music fans streamed through the gates and 2,000 of those crazy cats opted to camp. Seems rather quaint now but it was a robust start. And the line-up wasn’t too shabby either.
Rage Against the Machine and Primal Scream were the impressive headliners but I can’t recall their performances – I was ensconced instead in the King Tut’s Tent. Appropriately, given its namesake venue in Glasgow, this was the place on site to catch bands on the up and up. And to shelter from the showers.
A cool fourteen months after Alan McGee had stumbled across their impromptu support set at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Oasis had started to prove themselves as contenders. They were a draw anyway but a timely downpour sent the crowds scurrying for cover and probably won them a few more admirers on the day. Their debut album, Definitely Maybe, would be released a month later, sealing the pact between band and fans.
Blur, Pulp and Manic Street Preachers all had profile already. They also just happened to be three of my favourite bands, forming the perfect tag team when they played consecutive sets on Saturday. Blur were feral fun, riding high on their new album Parklife. Pulp were one year away from their career-making Glastonbury headline slot but had already seduced the cognoscenti with their suburban satires and Jarvis Cocker’s unique stage presence.
The Manics were more troubled. They turned in a storming set, but where was guitarist Richey Edwards? His bandmates were discreet but it emerged later that he had checked into the Priory. This was their first gig as a three-piece – little did they know this would become a permanent arrangement when Edwards disappeared the following February, never to be seen again.
All four of these bands would go on to headline the festival in subsequent years but it was quite the privilege to see them all under the one (canvas) roof at such a pivotal time in their careers. I wonder if we will be able to say the same in future about any of this year’s line-up?