So even though it was last minute I headed down to Oxegen at the weekend, slinging about in the mud filled Punchestown racecourse. I missed the Friday celebrations due to other commitments but made an effort to wade about on Saturday and Sunday.
Highlights included first band of Saturday for me, Messiah J And The Expert, who brought the noise and packed out the Red Bull Academy tent. It baffles me as to why this band are not bigger than they are, as the stage show it clean cut, animated and fun. With Messiah J's stellar showmanship and The Expert's ingenious use of samples and brilliant beats bringing the tent to boiling point, The Boys Have Had Enough, Keep The Noise Down and Abandon Ship all had the crowd in an ecstatic frenzy as Turn The Magic On and forthcoming single Geography encouraged a joyous sing-a-long.
Another highlight for me was the Friendly Fires in The Green Spheres tent late on the Sunday afternoon. Having caught them two months previously in Waterford I was expecting good things and I was far from disappointed. Their audience was a mish mash of people of all ages who just wanted to dance and sing to their favourite FF songs. While the tent erupted momentarily for Jump In The Pool and Skeleton Boy, it was Jack Bevan from Foals' drumming presence on album favourite On Board that added to the party vibe of the set alongside front man Ed MacFarlanes consistent pleas for everyone to dance. Hope they get back over here soon.
Next up was Foals in the same tent as FF. It was my 5th time catching them live and they didn't disappoint. Yannis Philippakas may have inspired a new generation of haircuts and check shirt wearers but I doubt his stage theatrics and guitar playing are easily mimicked. Foals as a band are tight and deliver each track precisely. Olympic Airways, Electric Bloom and Balloons all dazzled with heavy riffs and erratic chunky drums while the popular Cassius and Two Steps, Twice inspired some much warranted moshpit action up the front.
This years hype-o-meter was all about Florence and The Machine. Her debut album Lungs bolted into the Irish Charts at number 3 on Friday and the UK Charts at number 2 yesterday, yet whoever thought it was a great idea to put her on the relatively small Red Bull Academy stage need to have a bit of a re-think. Stuffed to the gills is the only way to describe the scene before Florence Welch took to the stage with, undoubtedly the most rapturous reception of the weekend. It seems every person in the place knew every word to every song and deafening roars of approval, human pyramids and crowd surfing came with Dog Days Are Over, Cosmic Love, Kiss With A Fist and Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up). A true talent with a powerful voice, Florence is only just beginning.
Other honourable mentions from the weekend: Nialler9's warm up DJ set for the weird and mellow Fever Ray. Some excellent tracks including Your Love My Girls (Animal Collective/Frankie Knuckles mash up), the Duke Dumont remix of BFL Daniel and Simian Mobile Disco's Audacity Of Huge were witnessed and danced to by the White Lies boys.
The Yeah Yeah Yeah's trying their level best to to fight off the pouring rain and poor sound on the main stage on Saturday as did Bloc Party. And So I Watch You From Afar tearing the Imro New Sounds stage to pieces with their thrilling set and lastly Digitalism playing Zdarlight to a load of 'mad out of it's' on the Saturday evening.
Goodbye mud it's been special to say the very least.