Monday 24 July 2017

Springsteen to The Verve - Slane headliners (and support) ranked from Best to Worst

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

As Guns N' Roses gear up to hit the Slane stage this evening for the second time in 25 years, we take a look back at the previous headliners and rate them from best to worst...

U2, 2001

The Taoiseach Bertie Aherne had to introduce emergency legislation to allow U2 to play two nights, such was the demand for tickets to see U2’s Elevation Tour. 

The first night was electric, and emotional.  Bono had recently lost his father yet the gig was hugely uplifting. They played again the following week.  The date clashed with Ireland’s World Cup match against the Netherlands (which featured that Jason McAteer goal) and a big screen showed the match for fans. 

Guns N' Roses fans at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath.
Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses fans at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses fans at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses fans make their way to the pit in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses takes a picture of at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Fans in the pit at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Mary McGeoghan and Polina Duginova Dundalk at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Tamara Conyngham (centre) with friends in the castle courtyard at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Michelle Ruske and Frances Ruske from Longford at the at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Suzanne Tierney and Collette Byrne Skyrne at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Fans in the pit at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Dawn Hagan Louise Smith and Claire Bailly from Newtownards at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Nicola Lowey and Exter Barnes from Belfast at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Shauna Moran, Sharon Tyndal from Dublin and Caoimhe Tyndal from Swords at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Elouise Kennedy Anita McDonnell from Wexford at the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Otherkin on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Otherkin on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Otherkin on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Blood Royal on stage at the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
A new bottle of Slane Whiskey makes it for the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Royal Blood on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Fans in the pit at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Royal Blood on stage at the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Royal Blood on stage at the at the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Royal Blood on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey

Support was impressive on both nights with Coldplay and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on the first night and Ash, Moby , The Walls, and Nelly Furtado on the second.

 

Bruce Springsteen, 1985

A whopping 95,000 fans turned up to see Springsteen and the E Street Band play three hours with no support acts.  It was the biggest crowd he’d ever played for and he wrote about how he feared somebody would get hurt such was the energy of the crowd.

“The crowd closest to the stage: an immediate couple of thousands, were deeply into their Guinness and dangerously swaying from left to right," he wrote in his biography.

brucespringsteen2.jpg
Bruce Springsteen concert at Slane Castle June 1985 (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI collection.)

“They were opening up gaping holes amongst themselves as audience members by the dozens fell to the muddy ground, vanishing for unbearable seconds until righted once again by their neighbours.

“Then, once standing, they’d slosh back the other way and the whole interminable, nerve-grinding exercise would be repeated again, ad infinitum. It was a sight too hairy for my tender eyes.”

brucespringsteen4.jpg
Bruce Springsteen concert at Slane Castle June 1985 (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI collection.)

However, he said the crowd settled during the second half and “protected one another”. 

Sounds like the best gig ever.

 

The Rolling Stones, 1982

A crowd of 100,000 paid £12 each to get in and complained about being “ripped off” because six packs of beer cost £5 and cans of Coke cost £1.  Reviews of the show were mixed – it’s probably one we appreciate more in hindsight!  It was one of those days when the sun was splitting the stones.

 

Oasis, 2009

They were at the peak of their power and played Rock N Roll Star, Live Forever, Don’t Look Back in Anger, Falling Down, Champagne Supernova, and I am the Walrus.  It was epic and Liam knew it, “Slane Castle, you’v e been fucking biblical”.

 

Foo Fighters, 2015

It peed rain all day but nobody cared and Dave Grohl was up for the challenge of dragging everyone out of their muddy, soggy stupor.  Lord Henry Mountcharles declared it one of the best Slanes ever and we’re inclined to agree.  Our reviewer Chris Wasser wrote, “Foo Fighters are at the peak of their creative powers, turning in a sharp, often genius set that, though brimming with various outbursts of so-called spontaneity (acoustic sing-songs in the rain, deadly covers of Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak and Queen's Under Pressure) stands among the tightest, most meticulously-crafted Slane performances we've ever seen. “

 

Queen, 1986

It was the last tour with Freddie Mercury.  They played to an adoring crowd of 95,000 who didn’t realise they were witnessing history.

mercury4.jpg
Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, performing at Slane Castle. 5/7/86. (Part of the Irish Independent Newspapers/NLI Collection)

 

David Bowie, 1987

He headlined the last Slane for 5 years that year.

787_266p.jpg
David Bowie at Slane Castle July 1987. (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI collection.)

 

Guns N’Roses, 1992

Speaking to Independent.ie journalist Ed Power  , guitarist Slash said that Guns 'n Roses Slane date in 1992 was one of the biggest he had ever performed and still stands out for him.

 

Bob Dylan, 1984

He was joined by Carlos Santana, Van Morrison and Bono during the encores after he had played a brilliant two hour long set. 

However, it was a Sunday and the event was marred by incidents the previous evening.  A band of concert goers descended on the sleepy village of Slane and set cars alight, wrecked the local Garda station and smashed the windows of businesses.  Two young men also died while trying to swim across the River Boyne.

http://migration-ece4.independent.ie:8085/migrator/ws/publication/independentDublin/resource/binary/724667
Bob Dylan headlined in 1984 with special performances from Carlos Santana (left), Van Morrison and Bono. Photo: Getty Images

 

REM, 1995

They were the band of the moment and they were supported by Oasis, touring on the back of their second album What’s the Story Morning Glory.  Liam was pelted with a rock during Roll With It and he didn’t take too kindly to it.

Like Bob Dylan, however, the gig was overshadowed by the death of two young men who had tried to swim across the Boyne to see the band.  The tragedy sparked a two year break for Slane.

 

Neil Young, 1993

With Pearl Jam supporting.  Enough said.

 

Red Hot Chilli Peppers, 2003

You can check out the madness on their concert video Live at Slane Castle.  They were supported by Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age.

 

Robbie Williams, 1999

It’s almost laughable now to think that Robbie Williams was big enough to headline Slane but back in 1999 he was hugely popular in this country. He had played support to The Verve the previous year and the crowd lapped up his infectious energy.  When the headliners then came on with the rather dull-by-comparison ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ many people left for the evening.  He had support from Stereophonics, Placebo, The Happy Mondays, Gomez, and David Gray, all of which added to the pull.

 

Bon Jovi and Eminem, 2003

There were two concerts that year and both hit the mark for different reasons.  Bon Jovi were the guilty pleasure we all like to indulge in and Eminem was on fire with support from Plan B and Chance the Rapper playing to a capacity crowd of 80,000.

 

Kings of Leon, 2011

A bit like Robbie Williams you look back now and wonder how the hell they were big enough for the gig, but back in 2011 Kings of Leon were the band of the moment, beloved by Ireland, and they reciprocated by playing their longest ever set.

http://migration-ece4.independent.ie:8085/migrator/ws/publication/independentDublin/resource/binary/902178
Kings of Leon entertain fans. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

 

Thin Lizzy, 1981

They kicked the whole thing off in 1981 playing to a crowd of 30,000 and boasting newbies U2 as support.

http://migration-ece4.independent.ie:8085/migrator/ws/publication/independentDublin/resource/binary/724642
Thin Lizzy headlined the first ever Slane in 1981. Photo: Getty Images

 

Bryan Adams, 2000

Moby, Melanie C, Muse, Eagle-Eye Cherry, and Macy Gray warmed up the crowd – have you ever seen a more 2000s line-up?

 

Rolling Stones, 2007

Our Independent.ie review said the gig comprised of, "a mostly middle-aged crowd who were content to stand back, shielded from the rain in their wax jackets, and let the concert wash over them.”  Not exactly rock n’ roll eh?

http://migration-ece4.independent.ie:8085/migrator/ws/publication/independentDublin/resource/binary/1097618
MICK JAGGER FROM THE ROLLING STONES PERFORMING AT SLANE CASTLE AT THE WEEKEND.PIC STEVE HUMPHREYS.18TH AUGUST 2007.

 

Stereophonics, 2002

They were deemed rather ‘bland’ unfortunately.

 

Madonna, 2004

It was a Sunday and it lashed rain.  Everyone was miserable, including, apparently Madonna, who was forced to cavort in her fishnets while someone held an umbrella over her head.

http://migration-ece4.independent.ie:8085/migrator/ws/publication/droghedaindependent/resource/binary/90173
Madonna in action at Slane on Sunday. Picture courtesy of Arthur Carron, KCP.

 

The Verve, 1998

See Robbie Williams above…

'I think half the village will turn out!' - Slane band Otherkin on playing support to Guns N' Roses in their hometown Guns N'Roses at Slane: 'I'd be lying if I said that 'Welcome to the Jungle' didn't give me chills' Don't pack that lightsaber in your backpack - 6 things to know ahead of Guns N' Roses at Slane

Online Editors

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment