The three-day outdoor music festival known as Oxegen – Ireland’s equivalent of our Coachella in California, or Glastonbury in Britain – featured plenty of rain and lots of mud baths as a result, but the music was second to none and yet again firmly established Oxegen as a must on the annual calendar of Irish music fans.
The rehabbed rapper Eminem was the highlight, given the honor of closing the festival on Sunday night, but it’s hard to single out any one performer given the star-studded line-up, which included Jay-Z (wife Beyonce watched from the sidelines), the Black Eyed Peas (making their second appearance in Ireland in two months), Earth Wind and Fire (a nod to those who love ’70s-styled R&B), and a whole bunch of bands popular throughout Ireland and Europe, including Muse (whose front man, Matt Bellamy, has replaced A-Rod in Kate Hudson’s affections) and Dizzee Rascal.
There were rumors before he took the stage on Sunday that Eminem would be a no-show, but he arrived at the Oxegen venue in Punchestown, Co. Kildare hours before he was due to perform. Em bailed on an Irish concert five years ago at Slane Castle, claiming exhaustion, but this time around he was on his best behavior and even requested a bunch of Oxegen mementos to take home to Detroit.
His set, hot on the heels of his new best-selling CD Recovery, garnered rave reviews from the Irish newspapers, though he was accused in the press of lip-synching at his show in Scotland the previous night. Given his one of a kind rapping talents that seems pretty unlikely, but fans lit up message boards swearing it was so. Irish fans, however, were thrilled to be in his presence.
"There was a brilliant buzz, the crowd just went mental when he came out," an onlooker told the Evening Herald. "The cheers were deafening from the audience and he was definitely the festival highlight for a lot of people."
The Black Eyed Peas, led by Fergie and Will.i.am, once again enjoyed their time on Irish soil. After their set on Saturday they took a convoy of limos into Dublin, where they partied the night away at the club of the moment Krystle.
"Oxegen is one of the best festivals in the world. You're really special to us. Out of all the places in the world we've been we've asked 'Where is the love?' and the love is definitely here in Ireland,” Will.i.am told the soggy fans at the festival.
There were 75,000 fans who braved the elements in their tents for the weekend, and though the weather didn’t cooperate there were only a few minor arrests.