Blur breathe life into Oxegen
NEWLY-reformed indie giants Blur are to headline this summer's Oxegen festival.
The Irish Independent has learned the rock group, who reformed last December following an acrimonious split, will play Ireland's biggest musical festival.
It will be the band's only Irish show in 2009.
Oxegen takes place at Punchestown in Co Kildare between July 10 and 12, just one week after Blur's highly-anticipated comeback in Hyde Park, in London, in front of 100,000 fans.
Promoters MCD are confident that securing the English group puts the festival at the "top of the music tree, with Blur joining an already astounding line-up".
The Kings of Leon join Blur at the top of Oxegen bill. The American group chose the Kildare festival over the chance of playing Croke Park.
Snow Patrol, who headlined the festival in 2007, are also pencilled in for a return. But it is the appearance of Blur, following their shock reunion, that will really whet the appetites of Irish music fans.
The four-piece, who were at the forefront of the Britpop movement in the 1990s alongside Oasis, last played Ireland in 2003, with three shows at the Olympia.
At that stage guitarist Graham Coxon had left the band in acrimonious circumstances as he battled alcoholism and depression.
Since then the band members carved out diverse careers. Both Coxon and singer Damon Albarn stayed in music and enjoyed solo success, bassist Alex James became a writer and a cheese maker on a farm in Oxfordshire, while drummer Dave Rowntree went into politics. With Coxon also describing Albarn as an "egomaniac" and others criticising Coxon's attitude, a reunion seemed unlikely. "It just felt right again," Albarn said. "There's something for us to do again, we're not completely useless or pointless, we've got a reason to exist."
And, unlike many recent rock reunions, the reformed Blur of 2009 will consist of the original members.
Indeed Coxon's appearance in Hyde Park is set to be the first time all four original members have appeared on stage since 2000.
And a week later the band, whose hits include 'Song2', 'Parklife' and 'The Universal', will play Punchestown in front of a crowd of approximately 80,000.
Other acts already confirmed for Oxegen include electro-rock outfit Bloc Party, Irish group the Script, and singer Katy Perry. Last year's event was voted "Best European Festival" at the British Festival Awards.
Tickets for Oxegen 2009 will go on general release on Friday March 6. Early-bird tickets will be available later this month for those registered at www.oxegen.ie.