Having flirted with Irish music over the weekend, Sunday is the day when the big four of the new breed look to make their mark, dotted across the various stages. First up on the main stage are THE BLIZZARDS. It’s a position that suits them well, providers as they are of power pop for the masses. Throw in a brass section and some bright sunshine (and the two always seem to go together) and while it may not be for the purist, its fine by us.
An hour or so later, it’s the DELORENTOS turn. Oxegen has traditionally been very good to them as a band – you can trace their ascent in popularity through their rise through the stages – and this year proved no exception as they took to the large Pet Sounds stage like they were born to it. It’s obvious that they’ve been touring incessantly of late, as they are as tight as the security around the backstage area. The quartet have honed their stage-craft to the nth degree, the frenetic energy delivered in taut bursts, with the twin guitar/vocal assault of RÃ³nÃ¡n and CiarÃ¡n a real winner. At times, it seems they’re trying just a little too hard to get the crowd to feel the love, but when they blast into ‘Eustace Street’ and ‘Stop’, the audience need no more convincing to shake their collective booties.
REPUBLIC OF LOOSE, meanwhile, have become so adept at handling the major moment that, even from half way across the site, it’s clear that Mick Pyro is dominating proceedings. A few years ago the thought of their stumbling live show working on scale this immense would have been ridiculous but here, today they have it nailed. Others take note, this is how you do a modern style soul revue.
In these terms, FIGHT LIKE APES are the baby brothers and sister but, like all junior siblings, they’re doing they’re best to grab your attention by being noisy, obnoxious and sometimes sweet. Their New Bands slot isn’t as fully subscribed as you might have thought but Maykay is unwilling to let anybody miss out of the experience. This, you sense, is their defining moment so far and they definitely grab it with four pairs of hands. There’s still a refreshing sense of chaos at work amongst the heightened song-writing. With the album still a way off they concentrate on the familiar and the swelling crowd respond in kind, before it climaxes with a massive version of -Battlestations’ and Pockets diving head first over the barrier.
Over at the IMRO New Sounds stage DRY COUNTY have the unenviable “probably-too-close-to-Rage’s-set-for many-to-turn-up” set but in this small tent all you need is 100-150 to have a good time and that number is present and correct. It’s the bands next to last show before shedding the Dry County name and their set leaves us suitably exciting for the future. Playing a couple of new tunes in a short set would be ill-advised for many but those songs kick and punch so much they are like old friends already. Their sound is impeccable and salient beats are disturbing the throng of people lying down outside waiting for Rage. Some even join in. They finish with a typically rambunctious version of ‘Stop Proceed’ all band members in gas masks, loving it as is State.
That would seem to be it for the Irish contingent. Unless of course you remember that, over in the Green Room, there is the small matter of THE POGUES. A lot of people have remembered it would seem as they are running to get there in time and soon the tent full barriers are up. It looks like that, even in this temporary world of guitars, haircuts and fashionable bands, there is still a place for the songs of one Shane McGowan. It’s a million miles away from the voyeurism that surrounded Amy Winehouse, the tent instead full of genuine affection and respect. The band respond by sounding better than anyone could have hoped with even Shane’s vocals coming close to hitting the spot. A resounding triumph and even a little moving in its own way.
Additional Reportage: John Walshe, Niall Byrne.
Photos (by James Goulden)
Republic of Loose