The Script – Main Stage
For those who still cling to the out of date notion that Oxegen is still an indie festival, the appearance of The Script so high up the bill has to be the ultimate wake up call. As the final deluge of the day falls, it’s not with the exactly lightest of hearts that we make our way to the main stage. We arrive to find a band obviously at ease with this scale of show, and an audience who are enthralled by their every move. What we don’t find is anything close to a personification of evil. Yes it’s all extremely polished and second guessed (Danny O’Donoghue’s carefully ripped t-shirt and wallet chain rocking the indie look) but the songs aren’t bad and bringing Tinie Tempah on for a funky version of ‘Written In The Stars’ is a neat trick.
Swedish House Mafia – Vodafone Stage
Time to move out of our comfort zone. With the dance element of Oxegen having largely remained a foreign field over the past few years, 2011 saw it move out of the shadows and onto the main stages. The Swedish House Mafia live experience is certainly a lot more than one bloke prodding at a laptop, owing more to the world of stadium rock than dark and sweaty clubs. On those terms it’s a success, adding excess upon excess with lights, lasers, pyros and huge plumes of dry ice shooting into the night sky. Underneath it all, however, there’s very little substance. It’s still the sound of one bloke (or in this case three) prodding at laptops, with the fact that they need to revisit giant hit ‘One’ on more than one occasion saying an awful lot. Ultimately we remain unconvinced.
Leftfield – Heineken Green Spheres
Oxegen these days is an increasingly unwelcoming place for the more mature artist and Leftfield arrive on the HGS stage to find those with an interest in dance music getting their kicks elsewhere. Their problem is that they’re not quite iconic enough to pull in the casual listener and in the wrong place to have a dedicated fan base here. Yet they also don’t help themselves. With the show based around Neil Barnes plus a drummer and, yes, another bloke prodding at a laptop there’s nothing to draw you in and even the rolling selection of vocalists make little attempt to engage with the audience. It takes old stager Earl Sixteen to inject a bit of life into proceedings but otherwise this was a non-starter.
Photo by Peter Neill.