Security tight as Marlay show goes off without hitch


With the Swedish House Mafia trouble in mind, police and promoter were out in force for the Example/Guetta concert

ANY RESERVATIONS that the Swedish House Mafia concert over a month ago wasn’t on everyone’s minds as David Guetta took to the stage in Marlay Park last night were summed up on the back of one young man’s rain jacket which read “I survived S.H.M.”

During the final songs from the last support act, Example, a punch-up broke out between two women to the left of the crowd. Punters being too cautious to butt in, gardaí intervened swiftly and apprehended one, while the other ran away. Example, perhaps unwisely, had been willing mosh pits to form and crowd surfers to get going, adding to a hyped-up electric atmosphere as the crowd bounced in unison.

In the absence of the Oxegen festival, the two big bills aimed at the 17-25 demographic this summer were Swedish House Mafia’s headline show at the Phoenix Park, and last night’s performance with big name DJs backing up Example and David Guetta.

Guetta, a complete showman who has the look of a retired French footballer about him, opened with a bang. A blast of sound reverberated through the park as lasers reached for the clouds and a constellation of phones ascended to record the moment as he waved from the decks screaming “are you ready?” over one of his biggest tracks, Titanium. Confetti exploded over the crowd as thousands pushed forward.

Outside, there was a notable police presence, with gardaí stopping and searching, removing cans of cider from attendees while the local Centra security instructed those entering to pull their hoods down.

The variables that differentiate this dance pop show from the infamous one in the Phoenix Park over a month ago are many. The capacity was 22,000 as opposed to 40,000. The venue isn’t as close to the city centre. The sky spat rain and remained overcast. Guetta has a more poppy, perhaps more female following. And the gig fell on a weekday.

But the Swedish House Mafia gig was at the back of everyone’s minds. That show, where nine people were stabbed and two died from suspected drug overdoses after attending the concert, will long live in the memories of those who attended it, and in the memories of the gardaí and the promoters MCD.

A national debate that arose in its aftermath covered everything from casual violence, drug use, an excessive drinking culture and the below cost selling of alcohol.

Gardaí were everywhere on site along with MCD-hired security personnel to police the concert. Both promoter and police force alike were acutely aware that any repeat of last month’s violence and open drug use would be a disaster. Security searched those arriving with full body pat downs, instructing people to empty their pockets into clear airport style ziplock bags, and were then searched with metal scanners.

Large signs read “Rethinking Our Drinking”. For most, it was the strictest gig security check they had ever experienced. Anyone who looked under 18 had identity checked by security at the queue for the bar where the limit was two drinks per person at any one time.

The concert sold out well in advance, illustrating the popularity of Guetta who is arguably the biggest name in pop music. The ever-smiling 44-year-old French DJ’s increasingly commercial output has reinvented the concept of the superstar DJ. While dance music purists might balk at his tendency for commercial beats, pop star collaborations and obvious breakdowns, Guetta’s position of transforming house music into massive pop hits as well as spearheading an electronic dance music revolution in the US a few decades after house and techno were invented there, is definitely at the top rung.

Tracks such as When Love Takes Over with former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland, Titanium with indie singer Sia and his production on the Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling which sold 14 million copies, have road-blocked commercial radio stations and clubs for the past few years.

Before he played though, the support cast of Tommy Trash, Wolfgang Gartner, Rizzle Kicks, Benny Benassi and Example hit the stage.

As the boisterous danced, the majority of the crowd were good humoured. Young men screamed “he is God” in the direction of the stage, another group tried and failed to start the chant “down with drink, up with drugs” in the queue for the bar serving only beer, wine and water.

Kasabian and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds played on Thursday night and tonight, Tom Jones and Van Morrison close the series of concerts.