Arriving on site for the second day of Ireland’s annual rain fest, State find the conditions have slipped over the edge from mild marshland to full on, inch thick muddy quagmire. In front of the main stage, at least, where The Stranglers are opening proceedings with various oldies but goldies, there are a few areas that are edging their way into full on wading territory.
Two Door Cinema Club, though, are the band that really kicks the day off. The Northern Irelanders have been shifted from their slot on the Vodafone Stage to the main arena due to sheer popularity (well, and John Mayer pulling out), and while there are patches of confused Biffy Clyro fans down the front, the Bangor group are so fun loving and infectious that they soon become a highlight of the weekend. Singles -I Can’t Talk’ and -Undercover Martyn’ are bracketed by the remainder of an album that’s become familiar through advertizing diffusion, with bounce along moments like -Cigarettes In The Theatre’ and -Something Good Can Work’ live up to every ounce of hype.
Over in the Hot Press tent, 3Oh!3 mention half way through that today’s show is their first in Ireland. We’re not sure if that’s the case or they’d had a few too many backstage, but the reaction to the Colorado starlets throwing down some beats is flamboyant enough to have those of us less familiar with their material reaching for their MySpace. Their accessible brand of electronic ‘¦well, blur, really, has the place hopping early in the day.
Before long, though, the marshland main stage calls us, and almost everyone else: Florence Welch is here. It’s patently unfair to compare Florence And The Machine‘s set here to her performance at the Olympia early this year, but State can’t help ourselves, and while Florence is as tuneful and energetic as ever, there’s a slight nervous edge that seems to have crept in in front of the bigger audience. She’s not helped by a colossal rainstorm hitting just as she comes on stage, or the fact that large parts of the crowd seem unfamiliar with her material beyond -Dog Days’ and -You’ve Got The Love’, but this is still one of her weaker performances. Of course, the hippy-pop singer on a bad day has still got the measure of most of the bands on the bill at their peak, and she even throws us a new song – we miss the name in the wind – but it’s a promising sign when it comes to making the new album, surely on the agenda quickly after the summer.
Dirty Projectors are one Oxegen’s more eclectic draws, and their off-the-wall rhythms are far from the most instantly lovably on site. While they might be performing to a mere couple of hundred in the tiny Red Bull tent, there are portions of the crowd utterly captivated by seven albums worth of assorted off-beats the New Yorkers throw down. Mixed-gender vocals and plenty of harmonies are the order of the day, and certainly throw a curve ball to those wondering through. They’re mercurial, talented and brilliantly spacey, nothing not to love here.
Kasabian are the kind of band that is made for festivals. At the back there are dozens of people throwing themselves enthusiastically through the mud, while down the front there’s arm-slinging and moshing frenzy going down with an energy that’s normally difficult to muster come the second day of such an event. While Kasabian have written several more albums since State first caught them headlining the backroom of a pub in Portsmouth, little has changed about their style: this is simple yet affective sing-along rock, with a few nifty dance leanings thrown in along the way, and it goes down an absolute storm. The oldies – tracks like ‘LSF’ and ‘Reason Is Treason’ – have been perfectly adapted to fit arena crowds, and Kasabian turn out to be the perfect intro for what without doubt is one of the best performances Ireland will see this year. Bring on Muse’¦