Preview: Stone Roses at T in the Park

Ian Brown shares a joke with Mani on stage at Heaton Park. Picture: Reuters
Ian Brown shares a joke with Mani on stage at Heaton Park. Picture: Reuters
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WITH T in the Park just around the corner, there’s little doubt who’ll be grabbing the headlines this year.

One of music’s most protracted will-they-won’t-they sagas was finally resolved last weekend when The Stone Roses played three triumphant homecoming gigs at Manchester’s Heaton Park and come Saturday, they’ll be crossing the border to play their first Scottish gig in nearly 17 years.

Back in 1995 when T in the Park was still in short pants, yet to switch to Balado from Strathclyde Park, the indie icons played two nights at the Barrowlands, the group already mired in disputes and wrangles that were to culminate with an acrimonious split the following year.

With so many fans deprived of the chance to catch them in action last time round, expectations levels are through the roof, especially considering Scotland’s place in Roses mythology. Before the recent reunion, their 1990 concert on Glasgow Green had been drummer Reni’s last-ever live performance with the band.

That gig was significant for another reason too. According to band member Mani, it was “the greatest show The Stone Roses ever played.”

“When we were on stage that day, we all looked at each other, and then just went up another level,” recalls the bassist fondly. “I will forever remember Glasgow Green, it was one moment when something special happened where we took a nation to our hearts and they took us to theirs.”

And even without the prospect of one big love-in, the legendary quartet certainly wouldn’t be feeling homesick in Kinross. This year’s line-up has a distinctly Madchester feel to proceedings, with another recently-reformed outfit from the baggy era - infamous hell-raisers Happy Mondays - also joining them on the bill, not to mention a clutch of other notable Mancunian acts in the shape of New Order, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Elbow and The Courteeners.

Before all that however, Snow Patrol play the Main Stage tomorrow evening, along with an eagerly-anticipated appearance from Florence and The Machine plus stints from rappers Tinie Tempah and Professor Green.

Although Saturday night may well belong to four lads in particular, female talent is at the fore throughout the rest of the day with sets from Jessie J, rising star Emeli Sande and Amy Macdonald, who’ll be showcasing tracks from new album Life In A Beautiful Light. Elsewhere there’s the chance to find out if the much-vaunted Alabama Shakes live up to the hype, while two behemoths of dance, David Guetta and Calvin Harris, provide alternative options for those unmoved by the Stone Roses’ second coming.

Jay-Z’s protege Rita Ora, who topped the UK charts with debut solo single R.I.P., promises to be one of Sunday’s highlights, as does R&B sensation Nicki Minaj. Just ensure you’ve got a pair of sunglasses handy, as she’s got a penchant for sporting outrageously bright costumes and wigs.

Previous headliners Kasabian close the three-day bash once again, returning to star in the slot they occupied in 2010, while over on the other side of the arena, it could be your last chance to catch Swedish House Mafia live, with the trio confirming that they’ll split come the end of their current tour.

Electronica pioneers Orbital are one of the main attractions in the relocated Slam Tent, which also offers the additional bonus of Friday action for the first time since the festival extended to three days.

And in another first, organisers step into the unknown with the inaugural airing of classical music at T in the Park when Nicola Benedetti opens the Main Stage on Sunday afternoon. “It’s a completely new direction for the festival, and a great opportunity to reach a different audience with classical music.”

“This is also my first time at T in the Park,” confesses the virtuoso violinist, “so I’m really looking forward to the experience.”