This was the most memorable gig of career, say Kings of Castle
US rockers pay tribute to 80,000 Irish fans after 'dream' Slane Castle gig, writes Ken Sweeney
US band Kings of Leon have described their massive concert at Slane Castle on Saturday night as the "most memorable" of their career.
A crowd of 80,000 concert-goers came to the historic setting in Co Meath to witness the biggest gig of the year so far.
"Woke up thinking last night's amazing gig was a dream. Thanks again to all of you who made it so special. Thank you Slane Castle. The most memorable show of my career," drummer Nathan Followill told fans yesterday.
Rhythm guitarist Jared Followill spoke of the group's special connection to Ireland.
"Individually, each member of our band is from the USA. Our band, however, is from this region of the world completely. This is our home," he said.
Neither grey skies, the odd drizzle or even the death of Cleo Followill, uncle to Kings of Leon brothers Nathan, Jared and Caleb, managed to put a dampener on the event, which also marked the 30th anniversary of the first concert on the banks of the Boyne back in 1981.
The night before travelling to Slane the Kings of Leon had enjoyed dinner at Patrick Guilbaud's restaurant before partying with Neil Diamond.
Hearing that the singer and actor was staying at the same hotel, the group waited until he returned from an appearance on the 'Late Late Show' before inviting him to a drinks reception they hosted in The Four Seasons Hotel for about 30 friends and family who had travelled to Ireland to witness their historic Slane show.
Gates at the site opened at 1pm as thousands of music fans converged on the small Meath village aboard buses and coaches from all over Ireland.
Some revellers arrived well-armed with wellington boots and macs but despite the odd shower, the downpour never materialised.
Support act Thin Lizzy played one of the most well-received sets of the day, 30 years after they first headlined Slane.
One element of the crowd seemed particularly fond of them -- the gardai, a number of whom were spotted singing along with Lizzy classics such as 'The Boys are Back in Town' as they carried out their duties.
"If I was the GRA I'd hire Thin Lizzy for the annual conference next year," joked one onlooker.
There were the usual complaints about queues for bars and toilets but in general the mood was good with just seven people arrested for public order offences despite the huge numbers in attendance.
"It was a good crowd and they were good humoured, people complied with security requests. Everybody behaved and nobody went near the Boyne River," said Superintendent Michael Devine.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar was among those who enjoyed the concert in an enclosure around Slane Castle.
"I've never been to a Slane concert before so I accepted an invitation to come down," he told the Irish Independent.
But unlike previous years, VIPs were thin on the ground, aside from supermodel Lily Aldridge, the new wife of Kings of Leon singer Caleb Followill.
She was spotted cheering on her husband when the band took to the stage at around 8.40pm.
The finale of the performance came with a fireworks display that lit up the night sky. But while concert-goers were looking up at the heavens, the headliners were already on the road back to Dublin -- with a garda escort -- and a private gathering in the Four Seasons Hotel.
Meanwhile, a new traffic management plan introduced for this year's concert "worked exceptionally well" at getting people home after the concert, with some buses leaving as late as 1.30am to ferry the last stragglers home.
The Kings Of Leon departed Dublin yesterday afternoon by helicopter to Coventry where they perform the latest date of their European tour tonight.
SLANE review, page 31