Ryan McConnell
10:44 16th September 2021

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In the town they call the ‘Dear Green Place’ - Glasgow played host to some of the UK’s biggest and most recognisable artists in what was a much-anticipated return to live music festivals in Scotland’s largest city.

With the loss of the country's biggest festival T In The Park among others such as RockNess, the future for live events in Scotland looked pretty bleak, but TRNSMT has since proven that the place is still a big draw for music artists the world over with many acts leaving in awe of the crowd's reception to their sets.

The arena itself comprises of four different stages with the Main stage, River stage, King Tuts Wah Wah Hut stage and The Boogie Bar all playing host to a variety of artists and genres.

Headliners for this year's event included the likes of Courteeners and Liam Gallagher who in all honesty now seem like well-recycled acts at the festival—even with TRNSMT still in its infancy. Not to discredit either artist: they are both still a big draw in Glasgow, particularly Liam, who showed that the appetite for Oasis classics from a crowd of very differing ages is still massive.

But it was Geordie songwriter Sam Fender along with Sunday night headliners The Chemical Brothers who really stole the show on the Main stage. If it weren’t for the fact the Newcastle lad only had one album release to his name, with his second on the way, he could easily have taken the headline slot with his outstanding performance. From the likes of his hit ‘The Borders’ to his cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’, he had the crowd eating out the palm of his hand.

The Chemical Brothers were a whole different matter as they showed just why they are still one of the biggest names in electronic music after thirty-something years. Their visual show alone is a sight to behold and their seamless transition through decades of hits felt like a work of art. During their set I actually had one guy come over and dance beside me who had brought along his wife and kid to see them. With tears in his eyes he told me how he had spent the last 25 years seeing them play all over but still felt like this was the best night of his life. I mean it could’ve been the drink talking but I believed him—the power of music is a wonderful thing.

Main stage covered, the weekend line-up was really held together elsewhere over on the King Tuts and River stages playing host to some of the best rising artists from around the country right now. Friday evening saw both rapper Little Simz and indie outfit The Lathums show that they are the torchbearers for their respective genres going forward. London artist Little Simz couldn’t quite believe the reception that she received from the Scottish crowd and Wigan lads The Lathums seemed to feed off of every ounce of energy from the ever-bouncing revellers.

The Scottish scene itself was really put on the map over the weekend with the likes of Glasgow-based folk artist Dylan John Thomas getting the crowd dancing and singing along relentlessly to the likes of his hit song ‘Nobody Else’ and recent release ‘Feel the Fire’ alongside a resounding rendition and sing-a-long of Johnny Cash favourite ‘Ring of Fire’.

Fellow folk artist and late stand-in Rianne Downey took to the River stage and drew in a respectable-sized crowd for her first TRNSMT performance with her rendition of Arctic Monkeys hit ‘Mardy Bum’ but it was her stunning vocals and own songs that the crowd stayed to see. Closing out her set with the much-loved Dougie McLean ballad ‘Caledonia’, Rianne was met with a showering of roses from a group within the crowd.

Declan Welsh & The Decadent West really got the crowd going over on the King Tuts stage for what was their first performance back post-lockdown. They seemed like a band with a point to prove and a message to get across as they shot through hits from their debut album Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold and subsequent EP releases—truly a band who deserve more recognition.

Other notable performances come from rising Edinburgh group Swim School as well as Spyres, who had a band member's dad at the side of the stage acting as an impromptu hype man for the crowd. Wishaw duo Saint PHNX also put in a performance which really should have seen them given the opportunity to play on a bigger stage at the festival—ethey have talent in abundance.

Elsewhere, The Boogie Bar stage proved to be hugely popular with the younger crowds and was not once empty across all three days as a number of DJ’s kept what seemed a ever-hungry mob of dance-loving teenagers going.

Out with the music: a big shout-out needs to go to street food purveyors ‘BIG FEED’ who assembled an array of absolutely stunning eateries including the best Mac & Cheese I have had in my entire career.

Though the portaloos throughout the arena needed some serious improvement and there could be a lot more diversity in the line-up, TRNSMT have proven that Glasgow is still absolutely a go-to city for big artists and crowds upon crowds of music-lovers.

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Photo: Press/Ryan Buchanan