Springsteen to The Verve - Slane headliners (and support) ranked from Best to Worst
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...
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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. “
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.
David Bowie, 1987
He headlined the last Slane for 5 years that year.
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.
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.
Thin Lizzy, 1981
They kicked the whole thing off in 1981 playing to a crowd of 30,000 and boasting newbies U2 as support.
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?
They were deemed rather ‘bland’ unfortunately.
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.
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