80,000 festival-goers were singing in the rain at Oxegen 2009
IT has no problem attracting some of the biggest names in music but one shower in particular again dominated proceedings at Oxegen. One long, seemingly endless shower.
At 8 on Saturday night, the only indication it was the middle of July came from the relative brightness -- because the ongoing downpour, gale force wind and temperature were more akin to deepest, darkest winter.
Two years ago, conditions underfoot at Punchestown were so treacherous it was likened to the Somme. It certainly wasn't that bad this weekend -- and the rain held off for most of yesterday -- but it wasn't pretty. And that was a real shame, because there were some scintillating performances across the three days, and some of them didn't get the audience they deserved.
On the flipside, some other acts -- the Dirty Epics spring to mind -- seemed to believe that a huge and sudden surge in their popularity had ensured they filled their performance tents, rather than the less ego- boosting reason of people seeking any port in a storm.
But we soldiered on, bravely.
"Water off a duck's back," Kathryn Rooney maintained. "You can only get wet once, and I think most people have come prepared or else they are obviously a bit dumb. It is Ireland, after all. Suck it up."
If the fans were generally well-equipped for the rain -- or as well-equipped as possible while wearing day-glo -- the organisers were doubly so.
Over €1.5m has been spent on the site -- putting in permanent and temporary roadways, and even sowing thicker grass in some areas to help absorption -- after the mess of two years ago, and it largely seemed to do the trick.
"As of now everything is going to plan and we're very happy with the event so far," Justin Green of promoters MCD said yesterday. "It's a live event until 6pm tomorrow."
But there were a few boobs yesterday. Lady GaGa flashed one to the biggest early crowd of the day at the main stage -- accidentally on purpose, of course. The flamboyant pop star had earlier told the crowd that she would "rather cut my feet off than not be here today".
But it's not entirely certain that she knew where 'here' was, having earlier being overheard asking how to pronounce 'Naas'.
"You all suffer for your love of music, like Jesus," she told the crowd at one stage. Okay. In fact, at that stage, the sun was making a fleeting appearance, and the crowds had streamed in from the camping sites to catch her.
It was in marked contrast to Saturday, when huge numbers avoided live music and instead took the option of having drinks while staying dry in their tents. Or at least attempting to.
"It all got a bit much about four in the morning, and I thought my tent would actually blow away with me in it," Brian Regan from Waterford said yesterday morning. "So I legged it for the car, and tried to sleep in that, which didn't really work out either."
And presumably, without his weight, his tent ended up somewhere in Laois. Not that the 22-year-old cared. "Oh, I'm gone today," he said. "I had planned to stay tonight but I've had enough."
He wasn't the only one, with many packing up early and setting sail for a hot bath and a warm bed. You couldn't blame them, but they still missed out. The Specials, Friendly Fires and Villagers put on hugely impressive sets, while Nine Inch Nails and the Killers brought the festival to a fittingly loud conclusion.
Blur, Doves and the Pet Shop Boys stood out from the weekend, though. As did Hollywood actor Natalie Portman when she was spotted buying pasta on Saturday night.
The festival organisers said there were 80,000 fans at Punchestown last night and Saturday night, and 73,000 on Friday. Work has already begun on organising next year's show.
Hopefully, they will pull out all the stops and get sunshine to top the bill.