Slick Bon Jovi leave Slane living on a prayer
‘Show me what you got, Dublin!’ says the man with the whitest teeth in rock
Bon Jovi on stage at Slane Castle in Co Meath. Photograph: Arthur Carron/Collins
Grainne Maloney and Siobhan Gerty from Longford at the Bon Jovi concert in Slane Castle. Photograph: Arthur Carron/Collins
Fans enjoy the Bon Jovi concert at Slane Castle. Photograph: Arthur Carron/Collins
What is more depressing - the hollow sound of an international, commercially successful rock band going through their paces or 50,000 people laying back in moderate sunshine and allowing it wash over them?
Admittedly, Bon Jovi were razor sharp, their act honed to precision after 30 years of playing the game.
You can argue about the figures - Slane Castle’s capacity of 80,000-plus was nowhere near approached and there was more on-site seating than at any other Slane concert event this writer has witnessed - but it’s difficult to argue with the overall generic quality of Bon Jovi’s music and, indeed, the penny-pinching support bill, which was exclusively, unwisely homegrown for the first time in the event’s 30-year-plus history.
Yet while the quality of the Irish acts wavered in front of a wholly partisan audience, it would be wrong, if not mean-spirited to deny that The Coronas, Bressie and Ham Sandwich gave it their all.
Although bottom of the bill - and, therefore, playing to a crowd that were slowly drifting in through the venue’s entrance points - Ham Sandwich defied their minnow status by delivering a short but impressive set. Bumped up to a 10-piece to include fiddle-strings and brass, the band really took their stint on stage by the throat and throttled it - deft songs such as The Naturist and a guitar-shredding, funky cover of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love added a sense of originality, wit and fun to what was to quickly turn into a lacklustre event.
Just after 5pm, Bressie - a Slane Castle veteran, just about, having played the event in 2009 with his then band, The Blizzards - plugged in and delivered a sequence of polished pop/rock. But not even his occasionally sparky performance could prevent him from being merely another 30 minutes of background noise to a venue that was quickly filling up.
The Coronas made a decent enough fist of their brief set, making full use of a major domestic presence and a handful of radio hits, but the day and the night was always going to be about Bon Jovi and not much else.
And then to the headline act, who performed within an American Graffiti-style car bumper/grille stage set.
Jon Bongiovi - the owner of the whitest teeth in show business, surely? - highlighted a lack of knowledge as to which part of Ireland he was in. “Show me what you got, Dublin!”
However, he and the band provided a slick, professional show that played into the hands of the faithful.
Non-believers? We give Bon Jovi love a bad name, clearly.