Kings at home in castle

Sun, May 29, 2011, 01:00

No fuss, no bother, and – unless Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, who travelled to Slane to see Thin Lizzy, counts - no celebs to mention.

This was Slane 30 years on: despite the much trumpeted 30-year anniversary, the event seemed, at least to Slane Castle owner, Lord Henry Mountcharles (who celebrated his 60th birthday this week), somewhat of a more personal affair. As he watched a regrouped Thin Lizzy perform, a friend presented him with a birthday gift, and as Whiskey in the Jar was played he just couldn’t resist engaging in a bit of a jig.

It wasn't all jigs and reels, however. Due to the tragic death of Cleo Followill, uncle to Kings of Leon brothers Nathan, Jared and Caleb, there was, inevitably, less of a sense of excitement at the band’s debut appearance at Slane. Guitarist Nathan tweeted on Friday, “Just lost my uncle Cleo. My tears could fill the Mississippi right now. I’m an absolute mess. Thank you all for being nice. This is a tough time.”

The band arrived in Dublin on Wednesday, earlier than planned, in order to avoid any potential travel issues with Icelandic ash clouds. They stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel, and on Friday had a private, intimate party at one of Dublin’s most exclusive restaurants Guilbaud’s.

There may not have been food of the quality (or, indeed, price) of Guilbaud’s at Slane Castle on Saturday, but there were enough food outlets to keep the 80,000 capacity crowd satisfied. In the VIP area, outlets such as Eddie Rockets, Saba and Pieminister tended to the somewhat more rarified requirements of a gathering that lacked any kind of celeb quotient.

Out in the field, the music was slow to engage the crowd. By the time Thin Lizzy came on stage, the venue was almost full, and as the reconstituted band played hits such as Are You Ready to Rock, Waiting for an Alibi, Jailbreak, Don’t Believe a Word, Whiskey in the Jar and Emerald, you could sense the crowd shifting from first into fourth gear.

Elbow’s quite considered music, by comparison, failed to enthrall with the crowd – their gig was most definitely a case of great band, brilliant music, wrong venue. At 8.40pm, with rain only threatening, Kings of Leon took over the reins and played into the willing, open hands of a partisan fan base. Most of the set – which singer Caleb Folowill stated was their longest ever – was culled from the band’s two most recent multi-million selling albums Only by the Night and Come Around Sundown.

For fans returning home, the problems of the previous Slane Castle concert (Oasis, 2009) were alleviated by a new traffic plan that gave buses priority over cars. In the VIP car park, however, there were delays of up to two hours in getting out of the car park and getting onto the Navan road.