Music fans take in Oxegen atmosphere as festival party draws to a close

NO one is naive enough to attend an outdoor festival in Ireland without raingear.

It was certainly needed for the first two days at Oxegen this year, but yesterday, the third and final day, it looked like the weather gods would finally relent and clear the skies.

Not that anyone cared too much. The crowds that had gathered at Punchestown Racecourse, Co Kildare, seemed impervious to the elements as they bopped to incendiary performances by Jay-Z, Arcade Fire, Florence and the Machine, Muse and Kasabian over the weekend.

Black Eyed Peas proved a festival highlight on Saturday night. Their spectacular show on the Vodaphone stage drew a massive crowd, and for the first half hour, it looked as if the rain would hold off. But just as they launched into one of their biggest hits, Where Is The Love? the downpour started.

Frontman Will.I.Am seemed genuinely moved by the dedication of the crowd. He spoke of how his band had started their current tour in Ireland two months ago, and of how they were delighted to be back again so soon.

Mid-gig, Will,I.Am was raised on a circular platform high above the stage to perform a DJ set that included tracks by Thin Lizzy, House of Pain and the late Michael Jackson, with whom he had recorded in Ireland.

Earlier in the evening, Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine braved the rainswept front of stage in an elegant blue dress to perform a set that included an ecstatic Dog Days Are Over.

If any single song summed up the spirit of the festival, then surely that was it. There was little thought, and certainly no talk, of the recession as 75,000 young souls partied ’til the small hours.

Yesterday’s schedule included appearances by Faithless, Paolo Nutini, the Prodigy and Mumford & Sons. World Cup fans were catered for with a 100 sq metre full HD screen — billed as the largest mobile LED in the world — broadcasting the Netherlands vs Spain game on the Nokia Live Stage from 7pm.

The atmosphere throughout was as good-natured as in previous years.

American rap superstar, Eminem, was scheduled to close the festival last night. There had been rumours in the past few days that he would cancel, but following his appearance at T in the Park in Scotland on Saturday, made it for his scheduled slot on the main stage at Oxegen.

Eminem cancelled a scheduled headline appearance at Slane, Co Meath, along with a number of British shows, in 2005, citing exhaustion. His seventh studio album, Recovery, was released last month.

The Oxegen campsites and car parks remain open until 6pm today to cater for the large numbers leaving for home.


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