YEASAYER ARE awesome. Put them in a small tent after midnight and you have proper party full of people whooping and hollering that but playing at teatime on the second grey-ish day at Oxegen doesn’t show them in the best light. Notable firstly is the dire sound – it’s a little like those drumming buskers who make noises with buckets. Normally glorious -Wait For The Summer’ should be an anthem for the day in total, but is suffers impact despite the band looking like they are really trying. Often brilliant, it seems a few elements are conspiring against them on this occasion. Highlight of the gig was watching a punter covered heat-to-toe in fresh, moist mud try to convince Dave Fanning, standing in front of us, to give him a hug. After an impasse, an agreement was reached on a high-five instead but for a few magical moments it was hilarious cat-and-mouse entertainment.
It’s a busy tent that greets BLACK KIDS with a bit of buzz bringing plenty of punters into the New Band tent. An interesting stage set up; you have a tall, healthy looking afro-sporting gent fronting the outfit (Reggie Youngblood) and to the right two ladies not only doing the ooo-oooh bits and a fair bit of impassioned singing, but playing a gathering of synths like Hot Chip’s sisters. Two of your State representatives are at odds over this cheery mix of -80s tinted pop/rock. Rep One is arguing that this was better the first time around (when he was a lad) while Rep Two is throwing finger gestures and saying that like Cut Copy for people in their early 20s. It’s all good fun if done right and dammit if this isn’t the sort of band you need to have at a festival. The pure joy is echoed around the crowd with the gloriously titled -I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You’ replete with the captive audience singing and pointing at its Sesame Street-type ‘1,2,3’ chorus. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. Whooo!
Packed to capacity and with queues outside, HOT CHIP have done their graft over the last few years of festivals to now fill the massive Pet Sounds tent. There’s a glorious sing-along, love-in vibe in the place and the band, decked out in solid primary colours, are feeling the love. There’s joy pouring through the speakers and watching the lads soak up the infectious atmosphere, and dish it back out in their glorious electro pop is pleasure in itself. Spine-tingling event of the day has got to be all three final tracks. -Over And Over’ has the baying crowd singing hard and dancing in every single nook and cranny of the place – seriously, everyone is dancing. This continues straight through -Ready For The Floor’ and then a magical version of -Nothing Compares 2 U’. No-one who was there will be able to speak today, such was the volume of the crowd. Superb folks. Take a bow.
Like Tom Crean walking the arctic wastelands, it’s a lonely trek out to the Green Room to see the MANIC STREET PREACHERS. Their stock peaked about five years ago it seems and nobody was to accompany us on this trip. The tent is a positive bloke-fest and it only confirms the shift into Dad rock for the South Wales trio. A gent called Wayne Murray is standing in the Richey role at the back of the stage but it’s Bradfield and Wire’s show really and James Dean Bradfield still has an amazing voice live. Straight into perennial favourite -Motorcycle Emptiness’ and it’s clear the band can still play it as good as ever. Three songs in we get their mighty cover of -Umbrella’ but most of the guys in the crowd don’t really know what to do with themselves. Some girls in pink cowboy hats are going crazy and good on them. It’s four songs in before we get any new album tracks (the very well received -Your Love Alone’) and -Autumn Song’ later comprise the sole output from the new record. There’s a classically Manics, but kind of ineffective version of -Pennyroyal Tea’ and of course the amazing -Design For Life’. Maybe it’s late in the day, or late in their career, but we may have already seen this band at their best. It’s not for the want of trying, or even songwriting, but sometimes bands have those glorious main stage days in the sun and watching the same stuff, albeit perfectly rendered years later, leaves more a taste of nostalgia and a desire to dig back in the record box to those heady days when we all danced to -La Tristesse Durera’. ‘Life… has been unfaithful’¦‘
Photos (by Shawna Scott)
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Concerto for Constantine