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Fans party through rain as Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay and Beyonce rock Oxegen festival

By Ken Sweeney

There was a fear rain would top the bill but the weather proved only a support act at Oxegen yesterday, with showers failing to steal the show.

Last night, promoters MCD estimated there were 65,000 music fans on the site outside Naas, Co Kildare, but with dryer, sunnier weather expected today and tomorrow for sets by Beyonce and headliners Coldplay, thousands more are expected to arrive on day tickets.

They will join the legions of music fans who are on the campsites since Thursday.

In 2010, it was “the terrible trumpets” from the World Cup — the vuvuzela horns — that kept campers awake all night.

But this year, Oxegen hell-raisers came up with an even worse torture for those desperate to sleep in the early hours: megaphones.

“They play music from their phones down them. We didn't get a wink of sleep but I don't suppose anybody comes to Oxegen for a good night's sleep,” said Michael Oprey (18) from Belfast.

Another sound disturbance on the campsites was an audio version of the Mexican wave.

Throughout yesterday, the good-natured cheer about nothing in particular worked its way across from blue to red campsites.

But it didn't keep up Pete Hunt and his friend James Spik, both 18, who had travelled over to Oxegen from Ascot in England.

“We slept fine because we were so tired from travelling,” Mr Hunt said.

“This year we wanted to visit a well-known festival so it was here or Glastonbury. But getting in a visit to Dublin first decided us on Oxegen.”

Although the music didn't start until 2pm yesterday, the tented army was well catered for on the campsites with Domino's Pizza, a pop-up Penney's shop, and a Centra.

“Pot Noodles. We've had a huge run on them. Everyone wants Pot Noodles,” said a Centra staff member.

Irish MTV presenter Laura Whitmore arrived to Co Kildare straight from the London premiere of the last Harry Potter film on Thursday. Hours later, she was en route to the backstage area, where she was to interview bands for MTV.

“Harry Potter to Oxegen. That's the nature of my job but it's great to be home,” she said.

Irish rugby star Cian Healy arrived down at Oxegen with some of his rugby pals in a small caravan, which might remind some of that episode of Father Ted with Graham Norton as the jigging Fr Noel Furlong. But it was more likely dance music was what they were playing as the Clontarf man will be DJing in the Red Bull Electric Ballroom under the alias DJ Church.

Team mates Tommy Bowe, Jamie Heaslip and Brian O' Driscoll are among the Oxegen day-trippers expected to catch his set at 2pm today and a performance by hotly tipped Dublin act Consumer Love Affair on the 2fm Hotpress Stage later in the afternoon.

While Cheryl Cole failed to show yesterday, well known faces expected to drop into Oxegen this weekend are US comedy actor Jim Carrey, Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, and Westlife members Shane Filan and Mark Feehily, all drawn in by superstar singer Beyonce's appearance tomorrow.

Her husband, rapper Jay-Z, is also rumoured to be planning a visit — Beyonce was in the crowd when he took to the stage here last year.

The crowds seemed lacking at times yesterday. Was it rain or waning popularity? Either way, US group Fun Lovin' Criminals had just 200 people waiting for them when they kicked off on the main stage at 2pm.

But playing hits like Scooby Snacks, singer Huey Morgan and his bandmates had managed to entice a more respectable audience out into the drizzle by the end of their set.

Next up, US indie band Weezer finished their slot with a choice cover of Radiohead track Paranoid Android.

Last night's Oxegen's headliners The Black Eyed Peas had on the home crowd, going on stage at 11.15pm last night. US band The Foo Fighters are among today's headliners, with Coldplay bringing Oxegen 2011 to a close tomorrow night.

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