ROCKERS Kings of Leon are set to headline Slane Castle next year, marking the 30th anniversary of headline gigs at the famous castle.
Lord Henry Mountcharles said yesterday he decided Kings of Leon were the band for him while watching their performance at the Oxegen festival in 2009. "They absolutely blew me away -- there and then I knew they were the act for Slane," he said.
He added he had also taken note of a huge campaign on the social network site Facebook to get the southern rockers to play the historic venue.
"Of course I was aware of the campaign," he said. "It's hard to ignore the wishes of 12,000 people. This is a very hot act, but it's a hot act in the tradition of Slane. Because it's the 30th anniversary, I wanted to find the perfect fit. Some people expected me to go for a legendary act, but that just seemed a little too obvious for me. I wanted to come slightly out of left field," he said.
Lord Mountcharles revealed how next year's concert comes just five days after his 60th birthday. "The 30th anniversary is a big deal for me. I wanted it to be special. Slane has been central to my life, but has also been central to the musical journey of so many people. There is a lot of pressure to get it right," he said.
His highlights over the past three decades include: Thin Lizzy, who opened Slane in 1981; U2 recording 'The Unforgettable Fire' at the castle; and the Guns N' Roses concert in 1992. "Springsteen was extraordinary too, and the U2 shows were very emotional for me. Robbie Williams was at the height of his powers when he played Slane -- all of these gigs were so diverse and so fantastic. I always try to give the best, so people can walk away thinking they just experienced a magic gig. I do feel it very personally," he added.
The Meath venue was heavily criticised in 2009 over a number of transport issues which plagued the Oasis concert. Lord Mountcharles has made assurances that these issues have all been resolved. "We have new transport facilities with faster turnaround. We have put in more toilets and widened the entrances and increased the size of the location too. We have a proud tradition at Slane and I am happy everything has now been addressed," he said.
Tickets priced at €70 go on sale on Friday from Ticketmaster outlets.