- 05 Jun 19
Graham Hopkins recalls his memories of Slane at Neil Young back in 1994, U2 in 2001 and playing as a support act for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in 2003.
The first time I went to Slane was in 1994 when Neil Young headlined. Van Morrison and Pearl Jam were also playing that year, so it was an absolutely fantastic line-up. I was a colossal Pearl Jam fan and getting to see them live was something else. My main memory is of how huge the place was. When you're looking down on it from the hill, there's no other venue like it...
In 2003, I got to play there with my own band Halite. It was like something out of Game Of Thrones! You could see people sprinting towards the stage, tripping over themselves. It was like going into battle, with thousands of people charging towards you. That's a very surreal sight. There were people down the front who might not have known the songs, but they were giving it 110%.
Looking down on the crowd from the stage is a real privilege, seeing their enthusiasm and watching them jump up and down together. It always seems like there's more camaraderie at Slane than at other gigs, more of that Irish spirit. I just love it. The bands remember everyone who has played there before them and want to make their shot on the stage just as memorable, so that they might become part of the history of it all.
That year had a monumental line-up. It was incredible to see PJ Harvey, Queens Of The Stone Age and Foo Fighters on the same bill, with Red Hot Chili Peppers as headliners. Even if I wasn't playing at it, I definitely would have been down there in the front row - so to have been included was unbelievably special. Lord Henry kindly says hello to everyone. I made sure to have a good oul' chin-wag with him. He's a special dude. I remember him driving around on his golf-cart with a smile on his face. He keeps everyone happy.
I'm very fortunate in that I've known Chad Smith of the Chili Peppers for years, and he was the one who invited us to play. So, even before we'd released Halite's debut album, Head On, I was looking forward to the gig at Slane. Everything to do with the album was more or less motivated towards playing at Slane.
I'll always remember those couple of days, because I also put on a drummers' night in the dearly departed SFX the night before. All of the drummers on the bill were there. We had Mark from Feeder, Binzer from Halite, Joey from Queens, Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters and Chad Smith. Even Nick Oliveri from Queens Of The Stone Age came by to play bass on a song. Drum clinics are normally sit-down affairs, with Q&As, but the whole thing turned into a giant mosh-pit, just for drums! We raised so much money for charity, it was insane. Unforgettable! I was also down there for U2's second show in 2001. It was the week after Bono lost his father, but it was an incredibly beautiful night. I remember looking out at the crowd: it was really special.