Music

Friday @ TRNSMT

Glasgow Green, Glasgow

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Lisa-Marie Ferla

four stars

FOR A festival we were told was no replacement for T in the Park, TRNSMT managed to display a surprising eclecticism despite its small size.

At one point in the early evening, you could experience three dramatic genre changes in the course of a 10-minute amble across Glasgow Green. Soulful Liverpudlian Louis Berry wowed the King Tut’s stage as hometown heroes Belle and Sebastian ran through their hits downwind. At the same time up and coming indie rockers The Wholls packed the breakout Jack Rocks tent to capacity, while music fans danced in the welcome sunshine to DJ sets in the nearby cocktail bar.

With Radiohead’s two and a half hour Scottish comeback show scheduled for later, the first day of TRNSMT promised a balance of household names and brand new talent – which it delivered in some style.

Betraying their film school roots, indie-pop four-piece Saint Motel emerged on the King Tut’s stage to a Public Service Broadcasting-style information film soundtrack. Set aside the tongue-in-cheek grandiosity, though, and their summery, radio-friendly riffs were perfectly timed for the late afternoon crowd.

Though frontman A/J Jackson’s cocky Californian confidence occasionally erred on the side of annoying, the combination of unexpected sunshine and the infectious riff to Cold Cold Man teased out the first smile of the day – even more so when the sax kicked in. “We’re glad you came as you are,” intoned another one of those voiceovers, and I was ready to forgive even the gentleman with the glitter beard in the crowd.

London Grammar did their best to warm up the main stage, but the dream-pop trio’s lush melancholia was crying out for a later time slot. Hannah Reid’s pristine, faintly operatic vocals gave the likes of Nightcall and Big Picture an epic quality, but failed to draw me in, although the big speakers created an atmospheric soundtrack as I walked away.

The Jack Rocks tent was rammed for The Sundowners, a Merseyside-by-way-of-Laurel-Canyon five-piece. With frontwomen Niamh Rowe and Fiona Skelly in lush, minor key harmony throughout their half-hour set, the band’s psychedelic folk vibes were the perfect tonic to that mid-evening dip. The set had an intimate, club-type feel to it, despite the packed tent, complete with the giddy rush that comes with feeling as though you’ve stumbled across something really special. The lyrics, such as they were, were a bit naff, but the overall effect was excellent.

Over on the King Tut’s stage, Louis Berry charmed with a versatile performance. The young songwriter switched from scruffy ne’er-do-well troubadour, to soulful bluesman, to country stomper, with ease, with the rough edges in his voice proving particularly effective on the lovelorn I Guess The Wind Changes.

Listening to Belle and Sebastian while drinking from concealed containers in Glasgow parks feels like a right of passage for west coast teenagers – it’s just a shame that the sunshine brought out the worst in Stuart Murdoch’s patter. Still, a wee bit of brass on a sunny evening quickly revived anyone left feeling a bit nauseous by tales of the frontman’s sexcapades on the ferry to Dunoon. Best-known song The Boy With The Arab Strap got the biggest reaction, not least when Murdoch – doing a serviceable impression of Bono as he walked along the crowd barrier – pulled out members of the audience to dance onstage.

The smaller stages wound down for the night, it was back to the main stage for Radiohead’s triumphant return to Scottish soil. While everything about the band, from their increasingly claustrophobic melodies to their understated stage presence, seems to fly in the face of the conventional festival headliner, an opening double header from OK Computer was the perfect distillation of their case for best band in the world.

To my left, someone swayed, eyes closed, as if in the grip of religious ecstasy, through All I Need; while to my right, a couple muttered, wandered off for 50 minutes and returned in time for the hits. In their set list, as in their band’s politics, Radiohead are divisive, but so are all the most memorable bands.