The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Day Three of Oxegen 2009


Review Snapshot: While I didn't get to see as many bands as I would have liked to on Day Three of Oxegen 2009, those that I did see continued to impress.  From a purely musical point of view, Oxegen 2009 ended on a high with one performance in particular standing out.

The CLUAS Verdict? 8.5 out of 10
Full Review:
Foals live at Oxegen 2009Rarely Seen Above Ground (Red Bull Music Academy)
On paper, going to see a drummer play along to a backing track doesn't sound too appealing.  It certainly doesn't help when that drummer arrives on stage over 20 minutes late.  However, when the drummer in question is Jeremy Hickey, better known as Choice Music Prize nominee Rarely Seen Above Ground, you know it's well worth the wait.  Hickey is a very talented multi-instrumentalist and his performance is accompanied by a screen showing a virtual band who are, in reality, all Hickey.  What is rarely mentioned about RSAG is the quality of Hickey's vocals.  All in all, it shouldn't work as well as it does, but fans of Organic Sampler really have to see RSAG live to appreciate the level of talent here. 
White Lies (The O2 Stage)
White Lies are not a band I'd generally pay much attention to but, seeing as I was hovering around The O2 Stage, I thought I might as well stay and have a listen.  Opening with A Place to Hide, what surprised me most was the quality of Harry McVeigh's vocals, comparable with Paul Banks of Interpol.  As expected, To Lose my Life and Farewell to the Fairground provoked the best reception from a sizeable crowd.  While there is nothing particularly exciting about White Lies, their performance was more than competent and I can think of worse ways of spending 30 minutes on a wet Sunday afternoon.
Foals (Heineken Green Spheres)
There are probably few things more fun in music than seeing a musician, who is clearly off his face, putting in an incredible performance when all the time you're wondering how he's even able to stand.  Such was the case with Yannis Philippakis whose foray into the crowd, and the vacant look on his face as he walked by me, was one of the highlights of my weekend.  Unsurprisingly, Foal's set consisted almost exclusively of tracks from Antidotes but the band's lack of a meaningful discography didn't stop them putting in a great performance.  The crowd responded in kind and really got into the set in a way that only Republic of Loose had managed (of the bands I'd seen) at Oxegen 2009.
Jason Mraz (Heineken Green Spheres)
After Foals' set finished, I had intended to go and watch The Specials but a massive downpour meant that I stayed in the relative dryness of the Green Spheres tent.  However, two songs in (one of which was an instrumental cover of Andy Williams' Music to Watch Girls By) and I'd had enough.  This is, I'm afraid, music that teenage girls (and, in fairness, my friend Joanna, who really should know better) probably consider to be 'fab' and Mraz himself is probably 'like, OMG, so good' but, no, it's not for me.  As I made my way to the IMRO tent (easier said than done considering the mud) I heard Ghost Town, which sounded great and made me wish I had braved the rain earlier.
Wintersleep (IMRO New Sound Stage)
If I'm honest, the only reason I went to see Wintersleep is because I wanted to secure a good spot for Villagers who would follow them on the IMRO Stage.  However, I was surprised by how good the band actually were.  Fair enough, the lyrics to The Archaeologist, might be a bit odd (Belly of a whale???) but they are a very tight unit and, as word of their performance spread, they got the IMRO tent dancing.  The highlight of a relatively short set (only 2 minutes longer than their soundcheck) was the exceptional Weighty Ghost, a song whose chorus is still running around my head this morning.
Villagers (IMRO New Sound Stage)
Some time ago, in perhaps my first opinion piece for CLUAS, I wrote that I believed The Immediate were more than the sum of their parts and that their break-up could lead to bigger and better things.  It's not often that I get to say this, but I was right.  Conor O'Brien is, and I don't use this word too often, special.  There isn't another songwriter in Ireland today who can provoke the same emotional response in me as O'Brien and his Villagers can.  This was, undoubtedly, the act I was most excited about seeing at Oxegen 2009. Indeed, in conversation with fellow CLUAS writer Jan Ni Fhlanagain I stated that if I was any more excited I'd have to cover my lap with my coat.  Of course, I wasn't that excited but when Villagers arrived on stage and launched into Down, Under the Sea, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.  This was the defining performance of Oxegen 2009 for me, culminating in the epic Pieces and the first chants of 'One more tune' I'd heard all weekend.  It was a privilege to be there.
Dark Room Notes (IMRO New Sound Stage)
Dark Room Notes, with their edgy blend of keyboard driven indie, are an exceptionally gifted band.  They have in their arsenal an array of songs that most bands would cut off their left ear for.  It's a pity then that their set clashed with Nine Inch Nails, Manic Street Preachers and The Killers.  Still, they managed to wow those of us that did make the effort to brave the conditions of the IMRO tent (think World War 1 trench with less death and more Abrakebabra packaging) with a set consisting exclusively of tracks from their fine debut, We Love You Dark Matter.   Shake, Shake My Ceiling and Broken Nail were the standouts for me in a great performance, what a shame that more people weren't there to witness (see what I did there?) it though.
Steve O'Rourke

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Nuggets from our archive

2007 - REM live in the Olympia, by Michael O'Hara. Possibly the definitive review of any of REM's performances during their 2007 Olympia residency. Even the official REM website linked to it.