Friday 15 December 2017

Bowie 'one of the coolest people to ever play Slane' - Henry Mountcharles

Bowie on stage in Slane in 1987. Photo: Independent/NPA archive
Bowie on stage in Slane in 1987. Photo: Independent/NPA archive
Fans at the Slane concert. Photo: Independent/NPA archive

Elaine Keogh

As conversations go, it wasn't very rock and roll.

But David Bowie chose the unlikely topic of third-level education to chat with Lord Henry Mountcharles about on the banks of the Boyne before taking to the stage at Slane Castle to perform to a sell-out crowd.

The owner of the Co Meath castle recalls how the iconic performer was the epitome of cool ahead of his set on July 11, 1987, which he tailored specifically for his Irish fans.

"It was the last show before I took a break [from concerts] for several years and I talked to his manager before he performed and he altered his set for the Irish audience. I wanted a bit more concentration on the hits, because the 'Glass Spider' tour was conceptually quite a lot to swallow," said Lord Mountcharles.

He and Bowie were seated in a pair of deck-chairs ahead of the huge concert as he got to know the singer a bit better.

"We got into discussing third-level education. He turned to me and said: 'I think it is about time I went on stage.'

"He looked at his watch and strolled off and went to do his thing. It was mesmerising. He was charismatic, charming and extraordinarily talented."

Given its unique location and huge capacity for 80,000-strong crowds, concerts at Slane are usually planned months in advance, and Lord Mountcharles recalls that the negotiations for Bowie's gig went down to the wire.

"The 'will he? won't he?' ran quite late as I recall. I was determined to have Bowie because he had a very specific place in my psyche and with an artist as enigmatic as him on tour and doing it on a grandiose scale, I grabbed the opportunity."

Lord Mountcharles added that Bowie was one of most charismatic performers to ever come to Slane.

"He was a seminal artist. I would have to say one of the coolest people to have ever performed at Slane," he continued.

He was also a fan of his film projects, citing 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' as "extraordinary".

Lord Mountcharles also said the Bowie exhibition in London "encapsulated his deep influence not just on music, but on fashion and film".

"He influenced and tapped into so much stuff. Not many artists have that ability. He had widespread respect. He broke down walls literally speaking in terms of how people perceived things. His influence is pervasive," he added.

Irish Independent

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