Sunday 21 October 2018

Rain doesn't stop fans soaking up party vibe

Headliners Blur bridge generation gap at Oxegen

Gary Lightbody, the lead singer of Snow Patrol soaks up the adulation of the crowd
Gary Lightbody, the lead singer of Snow Patrol soaks up the adulation of the crowd

Fiach Kelly at Oxegen

IT USED to be a simple choice -- as easy as whether you preferred Oasis or Blur.

But not anymore. Oxegen, so long the summer stronghold of the young, lairy and up for it was something the more sophisticated music audience -- as they saw themselves -- wouldn't dream of attending.

But the usually boho crowd couldn't stay away when the line up this year actually included Blur as headliners.

So they had to kick off their shoes, don their wellies and get ready to roll in the wood chippings and mud at Punchestown if they wanted to see whether their heroes could woo-hoo to their hit 'Song 2' as well as they used to.


Perhaps used to the more relaxed surroundings of Electric Picnic, some were finding it difficult to acclimatise, although all were well and truly immersed in Oxegen mode by the time Blur took to the stage after 11 o'clock last night.

"The younger crowd are a bit mad," said 27-year-old Shirley Costelloe from Scariff in Co Clare, who was looking forward to seeing Florence and the Machine and Lady Gaga. "I've been slapped with a plastic sword already. And I've had fag stubbed out on me."

"But we're enjoying it," her friend Deirdre McMahon piped up. "The music here is amazing."

The grey clouds threatened all day, and dumped their load a number of times on the 72,000 who were on site, although it didn't seem to dilute the atmosphere.

The ground held up too, although how firm it will be after a predicted deluge today is anyone's guess.

Lily Allen proved the first big draw on the main stage yesterday evening, and got the crowd going with her hit 'Oh My God'. She was left slightly underwhelmed, however, with the crowd's response to a few of her songs. "Oh, you guys are like women," she said. "C'mon you lot!"

Sampling Ms Allen's tongue lashing were the Kelly sisters Aine (41) and Niamh (33) from nearby Naas, Co Kildare, who were putting their free tickets to good use.

"My son is here so I feel so old," said Niamh. "He's probably hiding from me."

"It's my first time here," said Aine. "But I'll be coming back."

Despite it being their first year at Oxegen, the two girls were learning quick. They were sporting yellow-and-purple wellies and even managed to sneak a couple of cans of cider past security into the main arena, usually a definite no-no.

Dublin-band The Script, who took to the main stage after Allen, seemed taken aback by the whole occasion. Their evening slot was a triumphant homecoming for them, and the crowd duly treated them as conquering heroes.

"We were in the audience two years ago," lead singer Danny O'Donoghue said. "It's crazy we're playing Oxegen."

Away from the stages, the more traditional Punchestown audience were in their element.

Eoin McGrath and John Ryan from Cashel, Co Tipperary, both 22, were busying themselves by lying in the damp grass at the side of the dance arena.

"The women here are unreal," said Eoin, while John tried to illustrate the point by occasionally lifting himself from the ground to try and accost the nearest passing female, without much success.

Seamus Conroy (17) from Castlebar, Co Mayo, was enjoying his first festival with his friends in the blue campsite and was full of wide-eyed wonder.

"I'm breaking myself in easily," he said with a big grin as his gang tackled a beer bong. "This is the best thing ever."

At least the target audience is happy.

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