10 to put the punch in Punchestown

Fri, Jul 2, 2010, 01:00

OXEGEN 2010:From Jay-Z’s monster tunes to Julian Casablanca’s melodic indie rock, and from Laura Marling’s Joni Mitchell pedigree to the Machine’s theatrical main woman, JIM CARROLLcolours in the 10 must-see acts on his Oxegen timetable with a big, fat yellow highlighter



The canniest operator in hip-hop, Jay-Z’s Glastonbury appearance in 2008 – the one where Jigga came onstage and brilliantly dissed Oasis – showed that he’s now just as much at home in fields as in arenas. As last year’s The Blueprint 3demonstrated, he’s still got a handle on what it takes to produce monster tunes that straddle the pop and hip-hop worlds. There may be other hip-hop acts gracing Oxegen stages over the weekend, but we reckon Jay-Z will make the biggest splash. He’ll also be the only one staked out by the paparazzi in Co Kildare, because of the missus.

WISH LIST 99 Problems, U Don’t Know, Brooklyn (Go Hard), Can I Get AÐ?, Empire State of Mind



In early June, Arcade Fire broke cover, played their first live shows in yonks and watched as the blogosphere went into overdrive. These warm-ups for the Montreal band’s upcoming tour introduced fans to songs from new album The Suburbs, upped anticipation about that release by several notches and, via online fan-shot videos of the shows, reminded audiences worldwide about Arcade Fire’s considerable prowess as a live band. Last seen in Ireland in 2007 – playing a tent in the Phoenix Park and disturbing the deer – we’re sure we’re not the only ones with Arcade Fire near the top of our must-see list. Arcade Fire interview, p6

WISH LIST Wake Up, The Suburbs, Intervention, Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out), Rebellion (Lies)



The old dogs for the hard road? There’s nothing you can teach The Prodigy about how to rock a live arena, a task they’ve been doing with much aplomb for many, many years. Liam Howlett and friends have a massive back catalogue to pick from when it comes to putting together the perfect live set. They’ve also showed that they’re not going to rely on their vintage hits, unlike others we could mention, with recent album Invaders Must Die a sterling return to form.

WISH LIST Out of Space, No Good (Start the Dance), Voodoo People, Omen, Smack My Bitch Up



A year ago, Florence Welch and her band were consigned to the smallest tent in Punchestown Racecourse for reasons that didn’t quite make sense to the thousands who couldn’t get in to see her. This time around there are no such mistakes, as pop’s kooky queenpin takes her rightful place on the big stage. While debut album Lungswas one of the albums of 2009, it’s Welch’s live theatrics and her ability to magnify those songs to fill any setting that are the real talking points. Recent live shows have seen her testing new material from her second album but, really, this is mostly about airing those familiar boom tunes one more time.

WISH LIST Cosmic Love, Dog Days Are Over, Kiss With a Fist, Rabbit Heart, You Got the Love



Vampire Weekend roared into 2010 with Contra, an album that proved 2008’s self-titled debut was no fluke. Anyone who expected Vampire Weekend to simply repeat the campus dramas that informed the debut album obviously didn’t have the measure of the band or their ambitions. These whip-smart New York uptown jive merchants have cornered the market in preppy, smart indie-pop with bright, bold and perky lyrical references and an Afrobeat pep to its step.

Two albums in and it’s clear that the only people who sound like Vampire Weekend are, well, Vampire Weekend.

WISH LIST Bryn, The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance, Giving Up the Gun, Horchata, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa(with guest appearance from Peter Gabriel)



It has been nigh on impossible to turn on a radio these last few months without coming across Cathy Davey’s Little Red. As is so often the case with Irish acts, a huge radio hit has turned out to be the perfect trailer for the album – for Davey, it’s her third album, the hugely impressive The Nameless– and subsequent live shows.

While Davey has admitted that the live experience hasn’t always been to her liking, much has changed since she was the shy young one hawking her debut album around the country and learning things as she went along. These days she’s the ringmaster, putting on the ritz with a set of fine off-kilter pop gems.

WISH LIST Moving, Little Red, The Nameless, Reuben, Sing for Your Supper



Julian Casablancas, who has been back on stage with The Strokes of late, hits Co Kildare to remind audiences about his fine solo album from last year. Phrazes for the Youngreally deserved more time and attention, so this Oxegen show should hopefully remind people to check it out. The album’s slew of fine melodies, throwaway cosmic pop zingers and occasional bar-room crooning sounded as if Casablancas was having a whale of a time.

However, the New Yorker will forever be associated with the band who came screaming out of that city in the early years of the last decade, and spent a couple of years turning indie rock on its head. There’s heightened expectations about a new album from The Strokes – and we hope it’s as swaggering as the band were at their best – but until that comes along we’ll happily make do with Casablancas and his casual indie-pop brilliance.

WISH LIST Out of the Blue, 11th Dimension, The Modern Age, New York City Cops, Ludlow St



A few months ago Laura Marling captivated a packed Academy in Dublin with a bunch of songs that were robust, enthralling and evocative. As the year has gone by, word of mouth continues to spread about her current album, I Speak Because I Can, and those comparisons to Joni Mitchell begin to make more and more sense. This transformation was always on the cards, even back when she was flogging debut album Alas I Cannot Swim, as her songwriting set Marling apart from more fashionable peers.

The live show has come on in leaps and bounds, and Marling’s confidence means that what used to be a quiet solo triumph with very few frills and flourishes is now a well-pitched affair with a fine band behind her to fill in the gaps.

WISH LIST Alpha Shallows, Darkness Descends, Ghosts, Cross Your Fingers, Goodbye England



There must be a rule in the Irish festival handbook that, in case the feel-good factor should plummet, Hot Chip are to be kept on hand to provide scorching electropop to up the tempo and send everyone into a delighted frenzy once again. Their albums may have ebbed and flowed in terms of quality in recent years – new release One Life Standis infinitely more akin to breakthrough release The Warningthan its patchy predecessor Made in the Dark– but the live show never fails to provide a decent rattle when the going demands it. The smart choice for indie kids, dance fans and all admirers of compulsive electronic pop.

TOP TRACKS One Life Stand, And I Was a Boy From School, Shake a Fist, Ready for the Floor, Over Over



What every Irish music festival needs is a group of musical nomads who first emerged from Colonel Gadafy’s guerrilla training camps in Libya in the early 1980s with a Kalashnikov rifle in one hand and a Stratocaster in the other. Ibrahim Ag Alhabib and his fantastic band of Tuareg musicians have been making rebel music with a cause since the late 1970s. Trust us, no stimulant available anywhere in Punchestown will come close to sending you on a trip like Tinariwen’s seductive, hypnotic, swirling desert blues. This is scratchy, squawking, bawling, pure-as-the-morning-dew rock’n’roll.

TOP TRACKS Tahult In, Soixante Trois, Chet Boghassa, Aman Iaman, Kel Tamashek