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Edel Coffey: Hair guitar rockers Bon Jovi just the ticket for Slane

I DON'T quite get all the fuss about Bon Jovi playing Slane. When the 80s' hair-guitar band were announced as the headline act for Slane 2013, music commentators were immediately up in arms (it takes so little).

'Bon Jovi would be the death knell for Slane Castle's annual music fest'; 'Bon Jovi are outdated!'; 'When is the last time they released a decent album?'

You could ask the same about the Rolling Stones, U2, REM and many others who have headlined the gig over the years, but when were such criteria ever important in deciding on what band would headline at the castle?

Apart from a handful of acts like The Killers, or Kings of Leon, Slane has always been about the big rock behemoths slouching towards irrelevance -- the cruise ship of rock gigs.

A nice sedate day out for fans and performers alike.

So why all the beating of chests and tugging of forelocks about Bon Jovi?

If not them, then who?

Surely just another past-their-prime ageing rock band.

It's simply the nature of the beast.

The band has to be big enough to entice 80,000 casual music fans into a field in Meath and they have to have had big enough hits that people know without actually knowing them, songs that sit deep in psyche after a certain amount of A-list radio play.

Slane is not a place for hardcore fans of breaking new music to discover original acts.

It's for people who get to go to one or two gigs a year, whether that is because they now have two kids and a job, and simply don't have time, or because standing for prolonged periods of time loses a bit of its lustre with each passing year.

Asking me what I think of who's playing Slane is a little like asking me what I think of control knickers.

We all know why they exist and we'll probably all have at least one encounter with them at some point in our lives, but expecting them to be anything other than themselves is unfair.

In fact, Bon Jovi is the perfect act for Slane.

If Lord Henry Mountcharles was to choose a more contemporary, or edgier, act he'd be hard pushed to sell the 80,000 tickets.

Kings Of Leon have already played and the only other band I could think of who would possibly fit the bill would be The Black Keys and again, they have yet to make the leap into mainstream that would allow them to move up from playing the O2 to playing Slane.

Slane, due to its sheer size, was always a mainstream rock destination. Just think of the people who have headlined it over the years -- U2, the Stones, REM, Thin Lizzy. Bon Jovi's heyday may be back in the 80s and 90s but they are still one of the biggest-selling touring bands in the world.

The venue was set up in the early 80s when there was no music festival in Ireland.

Nowadays, the more discerning music listener can go to Electric Picnic, Hard Working Class Heroes, or further afield to events like SXSW in Texas or Primavera in Barcelona and see all sorts of fascinating new bands on multiple stages.

Slane is a festival with stabilisers on. It's a nice safe place to relive your youth and drink some beer in an outdoor setting without fretting that a garda is going to give you a hard time.

THE arrival of singer Jon Bon Jovi in Slane by helicopter on Tuesday seemed a sad throwback to those hedonistic days when his band ruled the world; the days when people bought records and bands made money from them, instead of having to tour into their retirement to keep the money flowing in; the days when Irish people flocked to Slane for the novelty of an outdoor music festival.

The world is changing.

How people experience live music is changing, but Bon Jovi and Slane are a perfect match for each other -- both outdated, albeit endearingly so.

Irish Independent