- 03 Jun 11
Happy birthday Slane, here's to 30 more years!
The road to Slane has sadly been a bittersweet affair for the Followills. Arriving in Dublin early in the week (lest a certain pesky Icelandic volcano spoil the fun), the boys were living it up in our fair city. Tweets like: “Currently feasting, drinking & turning my teeth purple on delicious red wine. I hope they can airbrush my teeth on the big screens at Slane” – posted by Nathan – confirmed that the Southern rockers were all set for the Meath event’s 30th anniversary shindig. Sadly though, the band then received sad news, with Jared tweeting on Friday: “Just lost my uncle Cleo. My tears could fill the Mississippi River right now. I’m an absolute mess.” Though the show must go on, it was undoubtedly with heavy hearts that this famous family band took to the iconic stage.
But let’s hold our collective horses – this year’s Slane line-up was a seriously juicy affair, and an impressive roll-call of acts were waiting to entertain the masses way before the Followills’ arrival. First up, Georgia garage rockers The Whigs (who supported the Kings when they played The O2 last year) turned their speakers up to 11 for an energetic performance, before Tennessee natives Mona took to the stage to showcase their Kings-meets-U2 sound. It was Londoners White Lies, though, who really got the party started, belting out hits from both their excellent debut To Lose My Life, and follow-up Ritual, finishing off with HP fave ‘Bigger Than Us’. As ever, like an annoying child constantly demanding our attention, the Irish weather reminded us of its ominous presence with a few drops of rain, but thankfully decided to feck off once it realised that legendary rock gods Thin Lizzy were up next.
And as far as ‘coming-full-circle’ symbolism goes, it doesn’t get much better than inviting the band who performed at Slane 1.0 to return for the 30th anniversary. With Ricky Warwick on frontman duties, Lizzy showed they’ve still got what it takes when it comes to rocking out, with hits like ‘Jailbreak’, ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’, ‘Emerald’ and ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ going down a storm with revelers.
Next up were Manc act Elbow, who, though probably better suited to a more intimate venue, still got a decent singalong going – particularly with the anthemic ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ and always rose-mantic ‘One Day Like This’.
A brief interlude later, and it was Kings O’Clock! As the foursome launched into their set, the crowd’s joyous reaction was a stark reminder that the 80,000 tickets for this show sold-out in an astonishing 45 minutes. No surprise really – Kings Of Leon’s sound is perfectly suited to Slane. Playing what Caleb told us was their longest set ever, the night’s mix of old school rock ‘n’ roll tracks like ‘The Bucket’, ‘Molly’s Chamber’ and ‘Spiral Staircase’ with more (whisper it) ‘mainstream’ anthemic hits like ‘Reverie’ and ‘Notion’ worked a treat, and though perhaps their recent bereavement made them more subdued in terms of crowd banter, they were never really the types to launch into, ‘So, a guy walks into a bar...’ style chitchat. Caleb instead thanked us for being there, adding that they’ve “been looking forward to this for a long time.” Good enough for me!
They then carried on with a blistering set; the crowd screaming along word-for-word to ‘Fans’, ‘Back Down South’ and ‘Pyro’. It’s always nice to have a bizarre moment thrown into the mix, and in this case it had to be when, during ‘Sex On Fire’ a hot-air balloon brandishing the Mace logo glided soundlessly over the stage. Rumours that Brendan O’Connor was onboard have so far remained unconfirmed...
When the boys finally finished up, nobody was too sure if we’d get an encore. Patience is a virtue though, and when Caleb returned alone, it was to perform a gorgeous stripped-back version of ‘The Runner’. Call me a sentimental young fogey, but no KOL set would be complete without ‘Use Somebody’, which was extra emotive as the sun had set and the band’s light-show was in full swing. And just when we thought, ‘Oh Kings Of Leon – with this encore, you are really spoiling us’, a gorgeous fireworks display over the picturesque surroundings finished off the night. Happy birthday Slane – here’s to 30 more!