Weather blows hot and cold but vuvuzelas prove reliable

Sat, Jul 10, 2010, 01:00

SLATE-GREY SKIES, incessant drizzle and an appearance by one of the world’s best-known celebrities – some things never change at Oxegen.

But then there are the vuvuzelas – an Oxegen first. It was too much to expect that these infernal instruments would not catch on in Ireland. The one-note horns were everywhere during a drizzly start to this year’s festival.

“Dead right the vuvuzela has arrived,” said Eoin Gorry (20) from Enfield as he drew breath before belting out a toot during God is an Astronaut’s set in the Green Spheres tent.

The exploits of Ireland’s most upmarket wedding band drew the biggest crowd yesterday afternoon for the first day of the festival.

It was a long way from the manicured lawns and the champagne receptions of Lough Rynn Castle in Co Leitrim to the muddy fields and cheap canned lager of Oxegen for The Coronas.

“We couldn’t believe it, they knew every word,” said lead singer Danny O’Reilly recalling the set they played for assembled guests at the wedding of Brian O’Driscoll and Amy Huberman last weekend. After playing their own music and a cover of The Beatles’ Something – “we’re not great on covers”– they were invited to stay for the night and party with the Irish rugby team. “We were definitely more in awe than they were,” he recalled.

The sun made a furtive appearance for The Coronas, but then disappeared for good. “I put Oxegen in with that class of rainy festivals in Scandinavia and Glastonbury, but this is our first proper rainy, cold European festival this year,” said Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. The band drew a big crowd to their main-stage set as did The Stereophonics. “Even when it was Witness, it f***ing rained,” said frontman Kelly Jones.

Among the festival-goers yesterday were Swedish teenagers Nicholas Aretakis and Allie Wrege (19). Nicholas said he came for the music and the atmosphere. The rain was a given. “The campsite is good, people are polite and everybody is talking to each other. We love Ireland.”

John Boyle (22) from Limerick, who had forked out more than €300 for a ticket, a tent and a schedule, was queuing for free yoghurts. “I don’t really like yoghurts, but if there’s something for nothing here, I’m taking it,” he said.

An initiative by new mental health charity brought a splash of colour to the campsites. Volunteers from NCAD spray-painted tents and wellies for a small fee.

Welly sellers were doing a roaring trade and rapper Jay-Z’s entourage ordered a batch of Dunlop wellies before his set as did headliners Arcade Fire.

Jay Z’s superstar wife Beyonce was the most talked about performer yesterday and she wasn’t even on the bill. She flew into Dublin airport in a private jet and surfaced for his concert last night along with several members of the newly promoted Newcastle United team who are training at nearby Carton House.