What a weekend! On paper it was one of the most uninspiring Oxegen lineups for sometime yet it turned out to be a fantastic weekend with some stunning performances, helped in no small way by the sunshine on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday it seemed like a re-run of the usual script, rain and lots of it. Thankfully this wasn’t the case. One of the big talking points was the eerily small crowd on Friday which left many shows deserted making it difficult for bands and punters to build on.
Whatever the case people were there to enjoy themselves. It was hard to know what to expect from House of Pain to be honest. They entertained the crowd buoyed by the appearance of sunshine before inevitably finishing up with ‘Jump Around’, sending punters into a rapturous frenzy of flailing limps and ‘jumping around’.
Next up Aussie psychedelic rockers Tame Impala over at the 2FM Hotpress Academy. No gimmicks just a short but fine set of warm fuzzy psychedelia running through tracks from their stunning debut album, Innerspeaker. They are far more ‘spaced out’ live than on record, memorable renditions of ‘Solitude Is Bliss’, ‘Desire Be Desire Go’ and ‘Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind’ in particular. It is a shame they were on so early and would be better suited to a different setting, their own headline show would have the potential to be something really special.
Getting ready for Shit Robot in the Electric Ballroom was a bizarre, it was creepy, ghoulish even, to see the place so deserted. The dance arena is normally jammed not matter what. The real shame was more people should have witnessed Shit Robot’s set, the sound, set and show was amazing. He deserved better.
The piece de resistance for the evening was The Strokes. The new album Angles may have received a mixed reception but it proved they are still relevant musical force today. Testament to this was the growing throng assembling at the Vodafone Stage even as the dark clouds descended. We were repaid quickly as The Strokes, in no mood to mess around, launched headlong into a set full of their biggest hits, along with material from their latest album.
Casablancas struts his stuff in a leather jacket and sunglasses (resembling a young Joey Ramone), then it finally dawns on you how great a band The Strokes are as they launch into hit after hit. ‘New York City Cops’, ‘Someday’, ‘Juicebox’ and ‘Reptilia’ are all stunning and when ‘Last Nite’ kicks in and all hell breaks loose. As they leave the stage it seems as though only minutes have passed since they had begun, which tells its own story. The Strokes return was a massive triumph eclipsing their disastrous show in 2004 and it will take something special to top that.
Amazingly there was more to come, still time to catch Leftfield in Heineken Green Energy tent. Straight from the off it is obvious this was the setting for them (inside, unlike Electric Picnic last year). The bass was simply outrageous, you could feel it rattling and reverberating throughout your whole body. It is no wonder they were once proclaimed ‘loudest live act in the world’. Extraordinary renditions of ‘Afro-Lelt’, ‘Song of Life’ and ‘Storm 3000’ blow the cobwebs off the old Leftism tunes.
Unfortunately that was it, I begrudgingly had to leave before the finish. One day down, Saturday and Sunday had a lot to live up to.