Rain? What rain?! Any seasoned veteran of Oxegen will tell you that the weather gods don’t often smile upon the Punchestown festival-goers and the forecast for the first day of Oxegen suggested that Oxegen ’11 would be more of the same. One prominent online weather service even warned of small tornadoes and mesocyclones, whatever they are. Any such fears were unfounded however. Sure there was rain but nothing as biblical as predicted, meaning that the Friday of Oxegen was significantly less poncho-heavy as it could have been and this was a welcome relief for what was the most enjoyable opening day of Oxegen in recent memory.
Entertainment.ie arrived on site and immediately visited the Vodafone stage where House of Pain were seemingly just thrilled to be there. Everlast, Danny Boy and DJ Lethal reformed last year after more than a decade apart and it’s apparent that they haven’t lost much of their sparkle, even if the majority of those in attendance were just biding their time until Jump Around boomed out of the public address system.
Meanwhile, Peter Hook & The Light were turning back the years a few hundred yards away in the Heineken Green Spheres tent playing a set of Joy Division music, with Hook doing his best Ian Curtis impression on lead vocals. Hook, at 55 years of age, has lost none of his swagger and was exhibiting the sort of rock ‘n roll histrionics that other bands on this bill (we’re looking at you, My Chemical Romance) just can’t quite pull off. Hook breezed through some Joy Division classics, like Transmission and She’s Lost Control, effortless. The sound quality in the tent was surprisingly excellent too, something of a rarity for festivals of this size.
Next it was time for the first trip to the main stage where Weezer played a blistering set. Rivers Cuomo and his band have been playing together for 16 years now but they haven’t forgotten the art of how to entertain a crowd. Their set was ideal for a festival like this. They played all of their hits – The Sweater Song, Island In the Sun, My Name is Jonas for example – when other bands might have played a set of predominantly new material. They even found time for a couple of covers, Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus and, more oddly, a song from their favourite “party band” Radiohead’s Paranoid Android. Without question the highlight of the day.
My Chemical Romance were next on the same stage. Weezer, though, were going to be a tough act to follow and My Chemical Romance certainly weren’t the band to do so.
The Script followed and played to perhaps the biggest crowd of the day. Danny O’Donoghue and co. have been getting increasingly bigger and for perhaps the first time on home soil, at an Oxegen festival, they looked look superstars. It’s been a big year for the Dublin band and last year’s release Science & Faith has seen the band swell in popularity not just at home, but abroad. The even took in an open air show in Central Park and even a show in the White House on their recent tour.
The Strokes, a band supposedly in the midst of internal strike, were next to take the Vodafone stage but any evidence of strife within the band was not apparent as they gutted out a workmanlike performance. As the band took to the stage, the rainclouds that had been hanging ominously overhead couldn’t hold out any longer and opened up for a good 15 minute torrential downpour. Julian Casablancas, all leather and sunglasses, either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Either way, it didn’t particularly detract from the New York band’s set. Heavy with tracks from – let’s face it – their best album Is This It?, like Someday, Last Night and Take It, Or Leave It The Strokes, even if they’re not on speaking terms with their singer as is the rumours, are still consummate professionals.
Finally, as the night fell and the mud began to get somewhat overwhelming, it was The Black Eyed Peas’ turn to entertain Punchestown. The Californian band were oddly adorned in metallic get-ups, making them look more like Star Trek villains than pop stars and gave the crowd everything they wanted to see. Will.I.Am, though, didn’t seem to know where he was at times. “It’s great to be back in the O2, uh, I mean Oxegen” and frequently yelling out variations of “Dublin! Make some noise!” to the Kildare crowd.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on our Twitter feed for live blogging from the site.
Click here for photographs from Friday's Oxegen!