Thursday 20 June 2019

Nothing Else Matters: 75,000 rock out to Metallica at Slane

Roisin Page, Dublin at Metallica's sold out concert, with 75,000 fans at Slane Castle in Co Meath. Picture: Arthur Carron
Roisin Page, Dublin at Metallica's sold out concert, with 75,000 fans at Slane Castle in Co Meath. Picture: Arthur Carron
Luz Escalante and Teresa Madriz, Venezuela pictured at Metallica's sold out concert, with 75,000 fans at Slane Castle in Co Meath. Picture: Arthur Carron
Eddie Rowley

Eddie Rowley

MORE than 75,000 Metallica fans whipped up a party on the front lawn of the majestic Slane Castle in Meath on Saturday night.

The colourful crowd came from all corners of Ireland and many flew in from several European countries to see the heavy metal supergroup perform their high-powered show featuring songs, including Nothing Else Matters, Enter Sandman and Seek & Destroy.

It’s been a decade since the American band last played Ireland at Dublin’s Marlay Park.

Metallica have been breaking sound barriers for 38 years, but they’re still performing with the energy and enthusiasm of a teenage rock band.

The field in Slane is a natural amphitheatre that sweeps down to the River Boyne behind the stage, and on Saturday there wasn’t a blade of grass in sight with the massive crowd.

Metallica’s jaw-dropping production, which includes 70ft high video screens like skyscrapers behind the band, ensured that the fans, old and new, got a close up of the action on stage.

Tamara Mountcharles and Caroline Keenan at Metallica's sold out concert, with 75,000 fans at Slane Castle in Co Meath. Picture: Arthur Carron
Tamara Mountcharles and Caroline Keenan at Metallica's sold out concert, with 75,000 fans at Slane Castle in Co Meath. Picture: Arthur Carron

The band’s production manager John Zajonc told the Sunday World: “The surface area of the video screen panel is over 2000 sq. ft., so it’s larger than most people’s homes.”

Dublin band Fangclub from Rush opened the show shortly after 3pm. “It’s a f**king honour to be playing with Metallica,” lead singer Steven King told the crowd before launching into their new single, Hesitations.

Metallica fan Carl Saul from Dublin’s Ballyfermot told the Sunday World he’s been “counting down the days and hours to this moment.”

The An Post worker, who was accompanied by his pal Brian Rossiter from Clondalkin, said: “The last time they played Ireland I was 16 and doing the Leaving Cert so I couldn’t go.

“I got into them growing up, particularly after they did a cover of Whiskey In The Jar. They are one of the most iconic of the metal bands.”

Brothers Kyle (23) and Craig (21) Dooley from Kildare were experiencing both Slane and Metallica for the first time. “It’s a massive deal for us to see Metallica live,” Craig said. “And it’s a double buzz to see them in Slane.”

A group of foreign nationals living in Cork were enjoying the Slane experience together.

Martina Bolejsi from the Czech Republic said: “It’s my first time here and it’s an amazing place.”

Marco Otto from Germany said the journey to Slane from Cork was also an adventure as “the driver got lost three times.”

He added: “It was worth the trip.”

Slane Castle owner Henry Mountcharles and his wife, Iona, were on top form as they toured the site in a buggy.

Henry said: “I’ve always thought Metallica were an extraordinary and influential band.”

The last heavy rockers to play Slane were Guns N* Roses. “I said to myself, how the hell do we follow Guns N* Roses,” Henry said.

“Metallica were a very obvious choice.”

Slane Castle has been a hive of activity in the last few days as the Metallica crew arrived in the rural location like a circus.

A total of 45 trucks rolled in with the stage and production. “It took 36 hours to build the stage, and a day-and-a-half, including working through darkness, to programme the lights, sound and video,” Zajonc told me.

The powerhouse quartet of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo clearly love what they do and feed off the excitement of their fans.

Metallica also have their own museum on tour, featuring the band’s memorabilia and musical instruments. It was available to visit as part of one of the special packages to buy.

Metallica were supported by rock bands Ghost from Sweden, Bokassa from Denmark, Stiff Little Fingers from Belfast and Dublin alt-rockers Fangclub.

Fangclub trio Steven King, Kevin Keane and Dara Coleman could hardly believe their luck playing at the iconic Slane venue.

Now making waves on the international scene, the trio from Rush, Co. Dublin, served their time the old fashioned way by touring Ireland in a van and playing in any venue that would have them.

“We dropped out of college, put all our money together, every cent we had, got a really cheap van and toured and slept in it.”

Irish promoter Denis Desmond said that Metallica only does around 50 shows per year and changed dates to make sure they played Slane.

“They actually moved and rescheduled some shows to make sure they could play Slane,” he said.

“Slane has been on their bucket list for a long time.”

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