Oya festival, Middelalderparken, Oslo

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The Independent Culture

With Amy Winehouse in crisis and Lily Allen publishing her doctor's sick note, the curse of Øya struck again. Two years ago, Pete Doherty got as far as Norwegian customs before he was caught in possession of illegal substances. This time two UK acts had pulled out at the last minute. The way was clear for Lady Sovereign to steal the show.

Wembley's council-estate urchin has morphed into a rabble-rouser, influenced by her parents' punk collection, yet still true to her hip-hop roots. The ska-punk thrash through "Public Warning" was well-judged for both Oslo fashionistas and Norway's notorious hard-rock fans, for all tribes converged on this friendly, environmentally conscious festival, sponsored by a certain Swedish retailer's soft furnishings department.

Where else could you take in The Boredoms' three-drummer attack on a sofa? Nor would any UK bill have featured Las Ketchup, Brazilian mob Bonde Do Role and Nine Inch Nails. And with their Sesame Street samples and fuzzed-up guitars, the Go! Team showed feel-good tunes are due on their new album, Proof Of Youth, although Ninja failed to completely convince as either singer or rapper.

A more impressive preview of new material came from nu-folk star Devendra Banhart. He revealed a tougher edge that channelled West Coast blues-rock, samba-rock and the jazz-folk stylings of Pentangle. And the Jesus and Mary Chain were in imperious form, with a new chiming melodiousness. In the evening, Roky Erickson's set favoured odes to goblins and devils over 13th Floor Elevators material.

Many of the homegrown acts fed the worst Eurosceptic stereotypes of beer-tent rock. A rare highlight were The Lionheart Brothers, shoegazing revivalists with a twist – a four-piece brass section that added punch to their psych stylings, while the female-led electropop outfit Rockettothesky usefully combined Röyksopp lounge beats with an engaging kookiness. All this was spread thinly over four days, but worth the wait for second-stage headliners Primal Scream. Even with a below-par Bobby Gillespie, they remained a compelling live proposition. Norway responded in the only way possible – as a fan threw a cushion high in the air.

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