Sunday, July 13, 2008

Review: Oxegen Day 2 - 12 July 2008

A brilliant day at Oxegen with some great performances and luckily for me, none of the bands I really wanted to see clashed with each other so there were no difficult decisions in who to go to see.

The day started off pretty slow, with no real standouts on the early bill. Caught a bit of Powderfinger who were ok, Camille O'Sullivan who put on a decent show for something a bit different and the end of The Music, who I wouldn't be a fan of but who attracted a decent crowd to the Pet Sounds tent.

My Morning Jacket

Things got going after that with My Morning Jacket, one of the main reasons I decided to go to Oxegen for the day. Wasn't a very big crowd in the tent which I was slightly surprised at but it didn't seem to affect the band. The sound wasn't great (a common trait of all the concerts) but that's to be expected at a festival. I really enjoyed the show, with opener One Big Holiday a particular favourite of mine. Touch Me I'm Going To Scream (Part II) was a brilliant finale of a set light on new tracks (only Touch Me and Evil Urges from the new album, if my memory is right) but a set that never relented with intensity. Lasted approx 45mins, which seeing as how their usual show length is close to 3 hours, I think they did a good job of condensing a typical concert into that timeframe. I'm just hoping they return on their own for a full show soon.

(Download a live acoustic version of Librarian here)

British Sea Power

From there, I traveled down to see British Sea Power in the Green Room. I got their highly acclaimed last album 'Do You Like Rock Music' but never really gave it a fair listen. After this show though, I think I'll be returning to it as they put on a strong set high on energy and good songs. Very enjoyable.


Then another of the big bands for me, Yeasayer in the 2FM New Band Stage. I thought this was brilliant and that the set was perfectly paced and performed. Ending with the double shot of 2080 and Sunrise was a fantastic end to the show. Not a particularly packed tent again but an enthusiastic crowd and the band seemed to enjoy it.

(Download a live version of 2080 here)

There was a bit of a lull then which I used to take in a couple of Vampire Weekend songs (don't understand the hype but they definitely got the crowd going and everyone seemed to love it.) Also had a quick glance at the Main Stage for Amy Winehouse just to see if she would get through it which she seemed to do as well as possible for her these days.

Seasick Steve

I then headed back to the Pet Sounds tent for Seasick Steve. This for me, was the surprise of the day. I was expecting a small crowd as he's not exactly the biggest name. But the place was absolutely jammed and his every move was greeted with mass hysteria, it was great. He's a great performer and he really got the crowd going, even taking up one girl to sit on the stage in front of him as he sang her a song. The crowd absolutely loved every second of it, with repeated 'Seasick Steve' chants, even as people left the tent afterwards. Definitely one of the big performances of the weekend I'd imagine for anyone who was there.

Richard Hawley

Caught a bit of the Stereophonics, who always seem to be on the line-up somewhere. They were grand, they're a good festival band but after a couple of songs I'd had enough and wandered to see Richard Hawley put on a stunning set in the Pet Sounds tent. It was a fantastic performance and a revisit to his albums is definitely in order. His voice is really spectacular and the small crowd seemed to really enjoy it.


Then on to the big hitters of the day for me, REM. Having met Peter Buck earlier in the day walking out of My Morning Jacket (lovely guy) I was really looking forward to this one and they didn't let anyone down. I couldn't imagine a better festival setlist for the band than the one they performed last night. Sure, there were a couple of songs I would have loved to have heard (Pretty Persuasion mainly) but to get songs like 'Ignoreland' and 'Fall On Me' was fantastic. There were the big hits of 'Losing My Religion', 'The One I Love', 'Man On The Moon', 'Imitation Of Life', 'It's The End Of The World..' which went down fantastically well with Stipe mentioning at the end of 'Losing My Religion' that it was the first time an audience had actually sung the mandolin part. The newer stuff fitted in perfectly with the songs having come a long way from some of the rehearsals this time last year which was mentioned a couple of times as well. Couldn't have asked for a better performance.

(Download a live REM compilation here)

The National

Finally, I went to see The National which was the first time I've been in a position to see them despite their numerous appearances here. They had some stiff competition with The Verve, The Prodigy, The Manic Street Preachers and Justice playing at the same time but they still attracted a sizable crowd. I've been a fan of the band for a long time and it was a real thrill to see them live and it more than lived up to my expectations. It was a very powerful set with some real standout tracks. 'Start A War' was great, as was 'Mr. November.' My favourite was 'Mistaken For Strangers' which was stunning. A great end to the day.

(Download a live version of Slow Show here)

Overall, it'd be hard to beat that day of music. Today would be great as well I'm sure with The Hold Steady, Band Of Horses and The Raconteurs but unfortunately I'm not in attendance. I'll be interested to hear how those shows in particular go, if anyone attends. and if anyone saw some other great performance during the weekend that I missed. (Must mention Blood Red Shoes, who were playing the same time as REM. I caught the last song of their set and it was brilliant. Luckily I saw them a few months ago in Paris and they put on great show and I'm sure last night was something similar.)

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