September 24-26, Rouken Glen, Glasgow


The Libertines

What’s the Story?

The rebirth of the Libertines is one of rock’s greatest examples of hatchets being buried, the bitterness of their split equalling those of the Stone Roses, Pink Floyd and the Smiths.

Formed in 1997, the songwriting partnership of frontmen Carl Barât and Pete Doherty helped propel the band to success and fame in the early 2000s. Their first album, Up The Bracket, reached number one in the UK album charts and their punk credentials were established when Clash guitarist Mick Jones produced both that album and its self-titled follow-up.

The National: Pete Doherty

All was not plain sailing, however. The relationship Barât and Doherty was not an easy one, made worse by Doherty’s addictions to crack cocaine and heroin. The relationship reached rock bottom in July 2003 when Doherty was arrested after breaking into Barât’s flat and stealing a guitar. He was jailed for six months, later reduced to two. The difficulties inevitably led to the breakup of the band in December 2004 when they were forced to play without Doherty after he refused to play with them.

Difficult though it may be to believe, the band reformed in 2010 to play the Reading and Leeds Festivals. They didn’t play together again until 2014 and have appeared intermittently since then.

Greatest Hits:

Can’t Stand Me Now (2004)

"Have we enough to keep it together?

"Or do we just keep on pretending and hope our luck is never ending"

No prizes for guessing what relationship this is about. Maybe the band’s best chorus. It reached number two in the UK singles chart.

What a Waster (2002)

Doherty narrates the story of a girl who "pissed it all up the wall". Where does all her money go ? "Straight up her nose". A tale of self-destruction which is a signpost to the future for the singer.


What’s the Story?

Formed in 1982 in Manchester just in time to rise to prominence during the Madchester indie-rave explosion. James went on to massive success. They’ve sold well over 25 million albums and a clutch of major hit singles. Past adventures include drug issues, a short stint on the iconic Factory label, an onstage altercation between front man Tim Booth and then drummer Gavan Whelan and a "voyage of self-discovery" working with U2 and Talking Heads collaborator Brian Eno (below). Still one of the best live bands in Britain.

The National: Brian Eno

Greatest Hits:

Sit Down

Tim Booth’s beautiful homage to Doris Lessing and Patti Smith was originally released as an eight-minute marathon but was the 20th best-selling single of 1991 when shaved to a more acceptable length. Its popularity spread when it was used in the promo for the seventh season of Game of Thrones. Well-known for encouraging audiences to (obviously) sit down.


A risqué classic which became a huge cult hit in America, Laid was only released because producer Brian Eno realised its potential. He was right.


What’s the Story?

In the late 1990s there were three big names taking electronic dance music into the live arena: The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield and Orbital. Brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll emerged during the rave scene in the early days of acid house. Their first single Chime was recorded on their father’s cassette deck in 1989 and became a rave classic. A televised appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in 1994 also did wonders for their popularity. being classed as one of the best 50 gigs of all time by Q Magazine. Their electronic beats sound as fresh as if they had been recorded last week and you’d be mad to miss them. Watch out for the brothers’ trademark torch glasses.

Greatest Hits:


The first and still among Orbital’s best, hypnotic, uplifting and intriguing. It reached number 17 in the British single charts and earned the brothers a spot on Top of the Pops, on which they made their mark by wearing anti-poll tax T-shirts. How can you resist them?


Remixed for their second album as Halcyon + On + On", this tune has been played to death live but has lost none of its appeal. On stage it has incorporated a diverse range of samples, including You Give Love a Bad Name and Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth.



The National: Kelis

What’s the Story?

The American singer, songwriter and chef (she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school) released her debut album in 1999 bit wasn’t catapulted to fame until she released Milkshake as a single from her third album, Tasty, four years later. Her life could have been very different. The song was originally offered to Britney Spears, who passed on it. Not a smart move. The sexually ambiguous lyrics, insidious hook and chilled r’n’b beats captured the public imagination and remains much loved today. Kelis isn’t exactly a one trick pony. Ten of her singles have reached the UK top ten.

Greatest hits

Milkshake. Obviously. Her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard so how could we miss it out? What exactly is she singing about with such obvious relish? Many have speculated. Something sexual certainly. A metaphor or a euphemism. The singer herself says the word means "lots of things", "the special quality that makes a woman attractive".

Watch Your Step (with Disclosure)

A club classic collaboration with one of the headliners at the recent Riverside Festival in Glasgow, this is a throwback to 1990s breakbeat, elevated by Kelis’ brilliant vocal and a wonky synthesiser. Will she play it next weekend without the Disclosure boys? Fingers crossed.

Roisin Murphy

What’s the Story?

Murphy came to fame as one half of the trip hop duo Moloko in the 1990s and launched a solo career in 2005. Towards the end of last year she released her fifth studio album Roisin Machine, a personal statement which sees her reinvent disco house with added sparkle and pizazz. Electronic Beats described her as ‘’this adolescent century’s true art-pop queen’’, a pretty accurate description.

Greatest hits


The opening track of the latest album is arguably the best but ironically the one which demands least work from the Irish-born singer. The steadily building, slowed down disco beat carries the weight as Murphy herself simply intones a list of words which rhyme – sometimes quite loosely - with simulation.

Murphy’s Law

A defiant ode to self- confidence – "I feel my story’s still untold, but I’ll make my own happy ending, I guess I’d rather be alone than making do and mending" – declared to a sensual disco beat. It makes you wonder how it would have turned out if Sunday’s headliner Nile Rodgers had got his hands on it.

Culture Club

The National: Boy George

There was a time when Boy George ruled the world. Tabloids soaked up salacious gossip, fans lapped up hit after hit, from the lilting reggae of Do You Really Want to Hurt Me to the impossibly catchy Karma Chameleon. The number ones just kept coming. Then it was over, ending in broken hearts, arguments, hard drugs and a cancelled American tour. This being a year in which every pop era is happening all over again at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME Culture Club have returned and their back catalogue serves as perfect fodder for euphoric post-Covid festivals.

Greatest hits

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

The first in a long list of chart-toppers this massive 1982 hit smashed it on both sides of the Atlantic. An aching lament for this relationship with the band’s drummer Jon Moss, Boy George has said it was also about all the boys he dated at that time. Hear it and weep.

I’ll Tumble 4 Ya

Modern title with currently de rigueur figure replacing a word? Check. MTV friendly video? Check. Boy George looking ridiculously fashionable? It’s all there and more. The single was only released in America and made Culture Club the first band since Beatles to have three top ten singles from a debut album. The infectious rhythms make it irresistible to this day


Macy Gray

What’s the Story? American soul singer best known for her biggest hit I Try, an absolute stonker from her debut album On How Life Is way back in 1999. She’s actually released 10 albums in total, received five Grammy nominations and won one in 2001 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (I Try). Weird fact: Gray went to school with Marilyn Manson … and it was her who ended up being expelled (although it was from another school)

Greatest hits

I Try

One of those songs you think you don’t think your know until the first few notes, when it magically comes flooding back. Its going to provoke a mass singalong at Playground. Fact.

Sweet Baby

The big single from Gray’s second studio album, The ID, in 2001 has some help from big guns Erykah Badu and guitarist John Frusciante from the Red Hit Chili Peppers.

Nile Rodgers and Chic

No one – NO ONE – on the Playground bill has had as many hits as Nile Rodgers. To list them would take forever: They span classic disco to pop heaven with Madonna (Like a Virgin) and David Bowie (Let’s Dance) to a solid gold dance classic with Daft Punk (Get Lucky). A Rodgers set these days is like being stuck in a field with the best jukebox in the world. His autobiography Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny was named one of the top 10 of the 25 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time by Rolling Stone.

Greatest hits:

Pretty much everything he has ever recorded. Let’s just list the top five: Good Times, Le Freak (both with Chic); We Are Family (with Sister Sledge); Get Lucky (with Daft Punk; and wildcard … Spacer (with Sheila B Devotion). No further words are necessary.