Saturday 24 February 2018

Guns N'Roses at Slane: 'I'd be lying if I said that 'Welcome to the Jungle' didn't give me chills'

Our reporter offers a guide on how to avoid potential 'typhoons of chaos'

No hassle at the castle: Crowds fill the natural amphitheatre at Slane. Photo: Patrick O'Leary
No hassle at the castle: Crowds fill the natural amphitheatre at Slane. Photo: Patrick O'Leary
Axl Rose - lead singer with Guns N' Roses
Royal Blood

Tanya Sweeney

Rock fans of a certain age are likely to recall the balmy summer of 1992, when Guns N' Roses roared into the Royal County in a blaze of notoriety on the Use Your Illusion tour. With singer Axl Rose still in his Dublin hotel at the exact time he was supposed to be on the Slane Castle stage, fans grew restless, resulting in what castle owner Lord Henry Mountcharles later described as a "typhoon of chaos".

A lot has happened to Guns N' Roses in the ensuing quarter of a century - splits, reunions, oxygen tanks, airport scuffles, you name it - but it's safe to say that the Irish fans' affection for them remains undimmed. And today's Slane Castle gig promises to kick off the official outdoor gig season in high-octane style.

Those lucky enough to have bagged a ticket in the few minutes they were on sale are certainly in for a treat.

So here's what to expect

Axl Rose - lead singer with Guns N' Roses
Axl Rose - lead singer with Guns N' Roses

It's the first time in decades that the G N' R lineup from its 90s heyday are touring again, and they certainly mean business this time around.

The band are cranking out around 25 hits a night on their current Not In This Lifetime tour - the tour's name, incidentally, is a reference to the band's reunion once being remote prospect given the previous tensions between Rose and guitarist Slash. The pair did not speak for nearly 20 years after Slash quit the band in 1996.

Don't pack that lightsaber in your backpack - 6 things to know ahead of Guns N' Roses at Slane 

But with order restored, setlists so far are packed with stone cold classics (with the band going easy, blessedly, on tracks from the ill-fated Chinese Democracy). Expect to hear 'Mr Brownstone', 'Sweet Child O' Mine', 'Nighttrain', 'Welcome To The Jungle', 'November Rain', 'Patience', 'Live & Let Die' and 'Estranged', among others. On certain American dates, the band rounded off a 25-song set with 'Paradise City', complete with fireworks and a confetti shower, although it's unconfirmed as to whether Slane's audience will enjoy such attention to detail. Still, fireworks are pretty much the standard end to Slane concerts now.

All in all, reports from the US leg of the tour have been positive.


"The teeming masses are barely able to take a breath from singing along, and I'd be lying if I said that 'Welcome to the Jungle' didn't give me chills," Billboard's Jeff Nale has enthused.

"Make no mistake, it is a good show - great, even. Slash's fingers move with the fluid ease they always have, and while Axl's voice isn't what it used to be, it certainly suffices."

Support, meanwhile, comes from an intriguing and diverse trio of acts.

Royal Blood

Local grunge-pop heroes Otherkin have already proved to be festival favourites at Longitude and the Electric Picnic. British duo Royal Blood (above) continue a winning streak with the release of their second album How Did We Get So Dark? Next month. Former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan, meanwhile, is a sort of elder statesman of rock who is sure to bring plenty of guitar-shredding noise. Gates open at 2pm (although no queueing is permitted before then), and the show kicks off with Otherkin at 3.30pm. Given Axl Rose's famously, um, uneasy relationship with punctuality, you may make of this what you will: Guns N' Roses are expected to hit the stage at 7pm on the dot. And proving that miracles do indeed happen, the band were in fact reported as showing up two minutes early for their Detroit show. So that's the music sorted then. Next most important question...

'I think half the village will turn out!' - Slane band Otherkin on playing support to Guns N' Roses in their hometown 

What to wear?

Go glam at your peril - jumpsuits, heels, and dungarees are conducive to neither walking through Meath's fields, nor waiting in portaloo queues.

On a different note, gardai have officially advised concert goers to pack wellies, rain gear and suncream. While the venue is a natural amphitheatre, its undulating landscape can make for tricky negotiation in anything but flats. And there could be mud.Met Éireann predicts there will be showers tomorrow but the east will probably get the best of the weather with a slim chance of showers at the concert. Yet given that we're in Ireland, the mercury really could go either way.



For many making the pilgrimage to Slane, a few pre-show libations in Boyle's Of Slane on Main Street is a time-honoured tradition (be sure not to peak too early, mind). Once inside the site, however, revellers can access three bars (with convenient ATMs right beside them). A row of food concessions can be found at the back of the site, facing the stage, and will likely serve the usual open-air gig staples. Any food or alcohol you bring to the site with you, alas, will be dumped.

Guns N' Roses show Slane-bound fans what to expect with epic promo video 

What to pack

Last month, concert promoters MCD issued a list for fans of items banned from the concert site.

These include selfie sticks, backpacks, iPads and umbrellas as well as more obscure items including lightsabers, Chinese lanterns, flag poles, and, in case one is so inclined, tridents.

If you fancy a keepsake, bear this official statement from MCD in mind: "Only pocket-sized camera are permitted for personal use only. Cameras with detachable telephoto lenses will not be allowed through arena entrances."

The nitty-gritty

The concert has a dedicated official app, which features a personalised navigation map (perfect for finding your car or mapping a route to the coach) and enables gig-goers to directly ask the events team anything they want.

Other than that, adding a few other small essentials to the checklist - toilet paper, plasters, a fully-charged phone, an emergency €50, the concert ticket - will ensure it's a gig to be remembered for all the right reasons.

Irish Independent

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