Jimmy Eat World, Vodafone Stage
There’s only one authentic way to experience a Jimmy Eat World gig, and that’s to be right up the front in the mosh-pit with all the faithful fans embracing their buried teenage angst. Jimmy Eat World have an impressive discography to their credit, but it’s the songs from Clarity, Bleed America and Futures that consistently garner the most raucous of receptions. Kicking things off with ‘Salt Sweat Sugar’ ensures that it’s a high-octane affair from the offset. The band slow things down ever so briefly for ‘23’, which turns out to be the defining moment of the set – the word-for-word singalong is powerful. Jimmy Eat World have no shortage of fan-favourites, but it’s ‘Pain’ and ‘The Middle’ that cause the mass hysteria this evening – it’s a case of jump-or-be-jumped upon for the latter. There’s no ‘Hear You Me’ but it’s probably for the best – we are at a festival after all, best to keep the urge to go home and have a cry to a minimum.
Friendly Fires, Vodafone Stage
It is beyond clichéd to talk about the weather in relation to Oxegen – but really, it does make the difference. As Friendly Fires treat the Vodafone Stage crowd to their impossibly catchy brand of dance-punk, the sun comes out to play and you can almost physically feel the mood lift. Friendly Fires are in full-on party mode, and the set is a dance-along affair from up in the pit right back to the groups chilling out on the grass and soaking it all up from a distance. Working their way through the best of both 2009’s self-titled debut and recently released follow-up Pala, it’s an impressive set and certainly not short on energy. And, should Ed Macfarlane ever see fit to take some time out from music and give dance classes, we’ll be first in line.
Coldplay, Main Stage
It’s no easy job to follow the Queen of Pop, but a personal endorsement from Beyoncé herself and the sense of excitement around Punchestown suggests that Chris Martin & Co. are more than able for the challenge. Coldplay are one of those spilt down the middle love-’em-or-hate-’em kind of acts – their die-hard fans obsessive, their opposers outright dismissive. I have always been the latter – but have been told that to see them live is to love them. And they certainly do put on one hell of a show. They are a captivating band to watch, and anthem after anthem the audience participation which they inspire is goosebump-inducing. Their lighting and visuals setup adds an awful lot to the whole experience, too.
The standard of the performance is so high that it’s hard to single out highlights – but ‘The Scientist’, ‘Clocks’, and ‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall’ are fantastic, ‘Viva La Vida’ causes all out madness, and ‘Fix You’ is incredibly poignant, the sound of thousands singing its refrains as fireworks explode above a truly special moment. Martin most definitely did his homework before making the trip to Punchestown, engaging in some banter as Gaeilge, and – in a move which nobody predicted – inviting local hero Christy Moore onstage to perform a duet of what he claims is one of his favourite songs, ‘Ride On’. An epic set and a fitting way to close Oxegen 2011. With the chant from ‘Viva La Vida’ reprised consistently by the crowds on the walk back to the campsites and buses, Coldplay have managed what seemed almost impossible – bringing a genuine sense of community to a festival that has had its ups and downs over the weekend. Consider me converted.
Photo: Jamie Tanner