Two Door Cinema Club – Main Stage
Just when I thought Two Door’s old material as starting to wear a bit thin, they come out with an absolute monster of a performance. Yes, ‘Do You Want It All’ is still a track with all the lyrical sophistication of a mobile ringtone, but lay that small blip aside and Two Door are just about ready to claim Oxegen as their own. Last year’s late move to the Main Stage proved to be essential: they drew one of the biggest crowds of the entire festival, and if anything this year’s is even bigger and better. Trimble and co. blend tracks that are fast becoming pop-rock classics like ‘Something Good Can Work’ and ‘Undercover Martyn’ with a spattering of new tracks (as well as confirming a forthcoming hibernation and new album in early 2012), and demonstrate thoroughly to those ready to write them off as a one-album flash in the pan that there’s plenty more to come.
Then there are the stage antics. Kevin bounces, sways and machine guns the crowd with his guitar like he’s playing a one off show in his favourite band. Alex is chock full of cheesy compliments, and produces a whopper festival moment when he persuades large parts of the crowd to climb on each other’s shoulders and watches on as the security try to work out what to do about it. It’s not like we haven’t seen this before, but Oxegen is clearly Two Door’s territory, and today’s set is a show of flair and self-confidence that even last year’s triumph was lacking. It goes down in front of a crowd that won’t be matched until the headliners, and only the most hardened can resist a leap, a sway and one beast of a sing-along.
Cashier No. 9 – Heineken Green Spheres Stage
Cashier No. 9 might still be firmly in their northern counterpart’s shadow, but they’re already turning into an impressive pop band. Filling the Heineken tent with a brand of twangy pop-rock that’s more sincere and less bouncy than Two Door, they open with EP title track ‘Goldstar’, and follow through with an earnest, downbeat set that showcases just why the UK press has begun to fawn. Sure, it’s bordering on sedate, and brings with it only the occasional moments of boisterousness amongst the lyrical sincerity, but there are still signs of a sing-along. The sound doesn’t do Cashier No. 9 any favours – they’re a little less crisp than they’d probably hope to come across – but there’s no doubt that this act will be one of the next to step off that conveyor belt of Northern Irish music success stories.
Amanda Brunker and Gitano – Vodafone Stage
News sweeps around the media area on Saturday morning that shocks no-one: Amanda Brunker and Gitano’s set will start 20 minutes late, as they don’t have the material to fill the full block. The ‘performance’, it turns out, is no more than three songs. Spanish guitar act Gitano, to be fair to them, are great at what they do. They open with a classical, summery guitar number backed with bongo beats, before welcoming their special guest, Ms. Brunker. And then the furore begins. It soon becomes clear is that if Amanda has rehearsed her performance, it was probably in a karaoke room. She sings just one song, a lyrically thin on the ground and horrendously out of tune rendition of U2’s ‘With Or Without You’ during which the ex-model seems more intent on showing us she can move her hips than actually using her voice. That’s probably for the best: the melody of the track has been entirely changed to suit Amanda’s voice, and frankly she’s still not getting close to tuneful. Thankfully, for the third and final track, she decides to simply sway at the front and punctuate some otherwise impressive backing music with the occasional squeal. Just one song of actual singing, then, and even that she manages to skip half of. Let’s hope Amanda’s musical ‘career’ is cut off before it starts: the brutal truth might be hard to swallow but it’s also undeniable – pick a person at random in your local pub after a few drinks and they’d give a better showing. You’re right, Amanda, you should turn off Twitter after that. Leave it to the professionals, next time?
DJ Church and Gordo – Red Bull Electric Ballroom
Not content with one celebrity trying to gatecrash the Oxegen party with a show of ‘music’? Answer yourself this simple question, then: who makes a better DJ – a. a DJ or b. a rugby player. Clue: it’s not a trick question. DJ Church – also known as Ireland rugby international Cian Healy – is not in Brunker’s category of horrendous, but his brand of dance is certainly limited on the mixing front, and seems to mainly involve the pushing of a play button. At least he’s got the guns for the ample fist-pumping that goes with it.
Photo: Peter Neill.