John Meagher: Oxegen fans to fall crazy in love with Beyonce
All the headlines may have been about U2 in the run up to Glastonbury, but there was only one name everyone was talking about in the wake of festival: Beyoncé.
I was at Fleet Foxes in Cork that night, but watched Mrs Z's headlining gig on the Pyramid Stage in its entirety the following evening and it was an intoxicating, high-energy performance that somehow managed to sustain itself over two hours. Suddenly, Sunday night at Oxegen has just got a whole lot more tantalising.
It's safe to assume that ticket sales for the festival as a whole -- as well as day tickets for Sunday -- have started selling briskly again. MCD may have spent a lot to advertise Oxegen this year, but the best ad of all was provided by BBC television's exhaustive coverage of Glastonbury, which featured several names who will be in Punchestown next weekend, as well as Beyoncé Giselle Knowles.
Coldplay also gave a very good account of themselves -- they were much better than U2, whose Friday night performance was over-praised -- and will be airing several songs from their as-yet-untitled fifth album on Sunday.
Primal Scream -- focusing on their seminal 1991 album, Screamadelica -- were also in fine form, as were a revitalised Chemical Brothers.
But one would hope that Glasvegas will have upped their game somewhat by the time they headline the 2fm Hot Press Academy stage on Friday. They were woeful at Glasto.
•As ever with festivals, there are inevitable clashes. Might Beyoncé's star show at Glasto mean fewer will attend The National's gig on the nearby Vodafone stage? I'll certainly be torn -- The National, after all, seem incapable of delivering a bad performance and are a quintessential festival band. And this Bright Eyes fan is going to have to forego much of that gig on Sunday in order to see Bobby Gillespie and Primal Scream do their thing on the Heineken Green Spheres stage at the same time. Decisions, decisions.
•Like many of my peers in the music critic game, Electric Picnic is the Irish festival I look forward to each summer, but that tends to be for reasons other than music, including the smaller crowd, the older age profile and the always wonderful Body & Soul area.
But looking objectively at the line-ups this year, it's hard not to draw the conclusion that MCD have trumped their rivals right across the board -- and not just on the big names such as Black Eyed Peas, Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Beyoncé.
Look through the list and there's a veritable smorgasbord of acts to get the pulse racing. From Plan B (who excelled at Dublin's Olympia earlier in the year) to British Sea Power (whose live shows are frenetic) and with such curios as Kitty Daisy & Lewis to check out, there really is something for everyone this year.
•Those keen to get a feel for the Irish music scene in 2011 are well catered for too. Choice Music Prize winners Two Door Cinema club play the main stage on Saturday and if you haven't seen them live, you really have to. Constant touring has made them an enviably tight proposition.
I've never been a fan of The Script, but I've no doubt that they'll pull a huge crowd to the main stage on Friday evening.
Elsewhere, the Irish flag will be flown by Royseven, who released their second album earlier this year, rising Galway hopefuls The Kanyu Tree and Bipolar Empire.
Those hightailing it to the Red Bull Electric Ballroom -- aka 'the dance tent' -- should make it their business to catch the Shit Robot Show live on Friday night.
The nom de plume of Dubliner Marcus Lambkin, he was responsible for my second favourite domestic album of 2010 (after Two Door ... ).
•Those unable to make it to Punchestown can console themselves with more than 30 hours of live broadcasts from 2fm.
Coverage kicks off at 2.30pm on Friday with Ruth Scott and Paddy McKenna and over the course of the weekend the baton will be carried by Jenny Huston, Dave Fanning, Dan Hegarty, Cormac Battle and Jenny Greene. As well as live performances, they will also be broadcasting band interviews.
RTE's live Oxegen website will also offer a host of features including acoustic sessions and video blogs and these will be shared on RTE Ten, RTE.ie, 2fm's YouTube channel and News Now, RTE's new 24-hour rolling news channel.
Punters can avail of an online, seven-day catch-up service of performances from the main stages. For further details, go to http://2fm.rte.ie/oxegen
Day & Night