TRNSMT Festival : Radiohead

Last Friday I took a day off work to go and walk about Glasgow Green, on the opening day of the inaugural year of TRNSMT Festival.

And no, I don’t know why they don’t like vowels.

The festival ran the entire weekend – with Kasabian and Biffy Clyro the headliners on Saturday and Sunday respectively – but I was happy enough to score a one day ticket, ostensibly to see one of my favourite all-time bands, Radiohead. The last time I saw them was also at Glasgow Green, on a dreich evening with a weird atmosphere, and it was a bit of a disappointment. Not so this time round!

I arrived around 3pm, quickly made it through security (well organised and friendly too) and set about exploring the site just as Everything Everything started their set. Aside from the main stage, there was a second smaller stage sponsored by King Tuts, the Jack Rocks tent (guess the bourbon sponsor for that one), and the Smirnoff DJ bus. Given the size of the site, I think the layout was ideal, it didn’t feel crammed and there weren’t any noticeable pinch points either. Admittedly that may have changed during the downpours on Sunday.

The line-up on Friday was a bit of a mixed bag for my tastes but I was suitably impressed with what I heard from Rag N Bone man (that guy has got a set of pipes) and although London Grammar sounded very beautiful it seemed an odd choice for a main stage (clearly I was in a minority given the crowds). I spent more time in the early afternoon at the King Tuts stage listening to Be Charlotte, Saint Motel, Honne, and Louis Berry. I even managed to squeeze in a couple of wanders back to the Jack Rocks tent (and so discovered The Sundowners and Black Honey).

A minor criticism would be the on-stage timings; It seemed, more than once, that all the live acts finished their sets around the same time meaning there was a lull in proceedings across the site. It was at those times that I, and many others, gravitated towards the thumping bass emanating from the Smirnoff dance bus, hidden away in a wee glade down next to the river, which had a constant stream of DJs lined up.

It was great to see local businesses strongly represented on-site, with many of the food stalls given over to the likes of Marthas and Nomad, and overall it seemed pretty well organised, even if they were a couple of minor last minute fixes going on (one of which to put up some screening round the gents urinals!).

So far, I was enjoying my afternoon, wandering around and soaking in the fun, friendly, atmosphere, itself a nice change from the moronity that T in the Park had become.

And then, all of a sudden, it was time for Radiohead.

First things first, no, they didn’t play Creep. I wasn’t that bothered myself, although it would’ve been good to hear the mass sing-a-long it would have started. Ohhh and they didn’t play Just either, not that anyone seems to mind that (except me).

It was about 9.40pm when they crept on-stage and immediately launched into two tracks from OK Computer; Let Down which worked surprisingly well as a set opener, and then Lucky which soared much higher than it does on the album.

From there they ran the gamut of newer tracks and fan favourites, treating us to the full range of the exploration and sonic devices they’ve toyed with from OK Computer onwards. There, There and 2 + 2 = 5 were nice reminders that when they put their mind to it they are a very good rock band, Ful Stop and Everything In Its Right Place pushing them out into thumping bass driven dance music, all underpinned by that ridiculous voice that seems to be getting better and richer with age.

One thing you cannot say Thom Yorke lacks is emotion (even if it’s very controlled), and whilst the crowd interaction was minimal, the big screens showed his commitment and love of what he was doing with smiles and fond glances out to the crowd. In fact everyone on-stage looked like they were having fun, with pleny of smiles going round from band member to band member. Age changes us all? A happy Radiohead?

Two encores zipped us back to OK Computer, with a huge roar for Paranoid Android and, yes, I shed a tear when they played Fake Plastic Trees* (I always do), and then it was a quick final trip back to The Bends before a rousing send-off with perennial favourite Karma Police, the crowd well enough versed to continue repeating the final refrain as the band left the stage.

And then it was all over and, as I sat on the last bus home I realised just how perfectly that final song had captured my experience. For one day, in the heart of my home city, wandering round a festival site, bumping into friends, chatting to strangers, enjoying cider in the early evening sun, I was transported out of the city and into the festival bubble where I happily lost myself, if only for a few hours.

* bonus, all three Glasto performances sync’d in one video