Giving it loads of welly at Oxegen


RONAN MCGREEVY  and  STEVEN CARROLL  report from the trenches of Punchestown

OF ALL the acts playing Oxegen 2009 few wore so little or made as big an impact as Lady Gaga. The New York-born singer and performer, who has gone from being an unknown to one of the most talked about acts of the festival, attracted a huge crowd to her set on the main stage yesterday afternoon.

“If you told me this time last year I’d be playing in front of 100,000 [sic] people, I’d probably have told you to f**k off,” said the singer, whose debut album The Famehas become a self-fulfilling prophesy. “You’re suffering for your music,” she told the crowd, most of whom had been on site for four days and endured a deluge of wind and rain on Saturday, which was every bit as severe as forecast.

Gareth Crawford (23) from Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, lost his tent during the deluge. “The rain came straight through,” he said, “people were ditching tents everywhere.” Luckily, he brought a spare.

The early part of yesterday was a far drier affair, but some sunshine gave way to thunder and showers as the Specials took to the stage. However, the previous days’ rain had left a muddy legacy, which the majority attempted to avoid, but others decided to embrace. “We were muck-diving all day yesterday,” said a mucky Shane Cooke (20) from Kildare. “It was savage craic.”

Elbow lead singer Guy Garvey thanked the crowd for enduring the rotten conditions on Saturday night, before the weather eventually improved for headliners Kings of Leon, whose set was watched by actress Natalie Portman, Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones and Pete Doherty. Addressing the crowd, lead singer Caleb Followill said it had been “the gig we’ve been looking forward to most this year”.

Friday night’s headliners Blur dedicated There’s No Other Wayto the Dublin-born music journalist Leo Finlay, who died in 1997, and The Universalto Joe Dolan, who covered the song before he died.

Oxegen 2009 finally sold out yesterday evening after a last-minute rush for day tickets. There was no repeat of the traffic problems that marred the recent AC/DC concert.

As of yesterday evening, the Garda was pleased with the organisation of the event. There were around 100 arrests, mostly for public-order offences, but Supt Pat Mangan from Naas Garda Station said there had been a low level of incidents.

A man arrested on Friday after a 28-year-old man sustained injuries, apparently after being struck in the neck by a bottle, was released without charge yesterday evening. A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Alice Stoneman (18) from Williamstown in Co Waterford said the atmosphere in the red campsite had been good, but that the weekend had not been without its hitches. Theft has been a problem in the campsite, she said. “My friend Niamh said somebody came and shined a torch into our tent and grabbed her bag, which had car keys, a camera and a phone in it.”