Line Up: R.E.M. / Stereophonics / Amy Winehouse / Paul Heaton
This was the first festival in a while, and back in Punchestown once again. The sun was shining and myself and the wife went down for just one day of the three day festival. I was alittle self-conscious at times as we were surrounded by a lot of people a lot younger than us....well me specifically (the wife is seven years youngerthan her husband). 18 year girls wandering round the festival wearing next to nothing......it was terrible. The wife made sure my eyes didn't wander too much and as a result we concentrated on the music.
First up was the master of catchy pop tunes with added lyrical spice; Mr Paul Heaton. He played the ‘Pet Sounds’ stage which was one of the smaller tents on the festival site. Debuting songs from his new album Cross Eyed Rambler Paul was in sparkling form. Alas there was a criminally small crowd there for him but in reality a lot of the festival goers were not born when he was starting off with the Housemartins. In fact The Beautiful South started off before a lot of them were born. Cripes I feel old now. He asked if anyone had bought the album yet, and as me and one other guy lifted our hands he said something along the lines of “Two copies! Not bad”.
Paul is a great man who is never afraid to speak his mind and writes some of the best lyrics in ‘pop’ music. He has admitted he isn't about to start experimenting too much musically but why should he when what he does he does so well. Top stuff.
I am writing this a matter of months after her sad passing; not a surprising death of course but that doesn’t make it any less sad. Looking back at her set in 2008 she was already on the verge of self-destruction. Her voice was weak but yet she had one of the biggest crowds watching her on the main stage. A great voice at its peak and great songs yet today were people there to watch those or to see a car crash? Whatever the reasons for the large crowd it still turned out to be a performance worth seeing. Amy was backed superbly by her great band who in reality helped her out vocally at times. An enjoyable gig but couldn’t help feeling that it could have been so much better. Then again it could have been a whole lot worse as well. Rehab and Back To Black were excellent of course but how much was that down to the crowd and how much to her band I’m not sure. A tragic loss that we won't fully appreciate for many years to come.
I love the Stereophonics. They do one thing but they do it bloody well. The guitars, the songs but most of all the voice. Kelly Jones has one of the best rock voices and he knows it. Songs that sung by anyone else might be average are transformed into big rock classics. Playing third on the bill on the main stage today they played a crowd pleasing set that was lapped up by everyone there. Bartender, Trees, Nice Day, Local Boy, Dakota and more. Great stuff.
We had managed to get down to the front at this point and to see them up close was a real thrill and the noise from the guitars was superb and the hairs did stand up.
Think the Mrs fell for Kelly a little bit though. Tart.
R.E.M. were the main headliners today. Yes the Verve played after them but not until after midnight and that was too late for us (rock n’ roll eh kids!). If we had got camping tickets then we probably would have stayed up to see them but we had a bus home to catch and so for us (and the majority of people) R.E.M. were the main headliners. Looking back now this was to be the last time they played in Ireland. Breaking up just three years later this was to be their last tour (although at the time we didn’t know that). Having stayed up near the front after seeing the Stereophonics we got a great view of one of America’s finest bands. Live they are always good. This was my fourth time seeing them and was possibly the best. Every song was a winner, in fact every song seemed like a hit, even new songs, especially the wonderfully catchy Supernatural Superserious. After End Of The World and Man On The Moon finished the set we wandered off home. There were a lot of other bands playing today who we would have loved to have seen but we either didn’t get time or didn’t have the energy to see them. Didn't get to see the Manics and didn't wait around for the Verve.
I love the whole vibe of festivals but have yet to do one properly. Glastonbury and the Isle Of Wight are high on the list and when I do them I will be happy. In the meantime Oxegen, and Witnness before it, have been rather magnificent.
Ticket Price: €99.50