‘Lovely, compliant and sober’: Harry Styles’s fan base gets ready for Slane Castle

Youthful audience expected to see youngest performer to play the venue since Robbie Williams in 1999

Slane Castle has been a venue mostly for heritage acts whose best work is long behind them. By the time an act gets to be big enough to play in front of 80,000 people, they have usually exhausted their creativity and are trading on a loyal fan base and past glories.

Harry Styles, at the age of 29, will be the youngest performer at Slane Castle since Robbie Williams in 1999 and at the peak of his creative powers with three top-selling albums worldwide. Styles is half the age of the previous Slane Castle headliners, Metallica in 2019.

Styles’ Covid-interrupted Love On Tour has been going since September 2021 and finishes in July this year, by which time, he will have played to 1.5 million people.

His audience on Saturday will reflect his relative youth. They will be mostly between 16 and 28 and, to nobody’s surprise, overwhelmingly female. Something between 85 per cent and 95 per cent of the people who have bought tickets to see him on Saturday are women.


They are the same audience that went to see him while he was part of the boy band One Direction when they played three nights at Croke Park in 2014 and, most recently, just last June when he played a sold out show at the Aviva Stadium.

They are a dream audience, said event controller Eamonn Fox: “Lovely, compliant and sober”. Not for them the dubious pleasure of going to their first Slane concert and getting wasted. “His audience turns up. They are dedicated. All they want to do is come and see him. From our point of view, in running an event, I like a Harry Styles audience. They do what they are told. They don’t drink. They are just coming for the music.”

The bars that were open in the Aviva Stadium last June did little business, he said, and, similarly, at his recent concert in Manchester. Consequently, there were will be fewer bars on site and more food stalls on Saturday.

The dry weather of late means there will be no problems with the ground surface which is as dry as a bone. The forecast for Saturday is for a pleasant 18 degrees and for overcast conditions. Crucially, no rain is forecast. There will be water stations on site and refillable bottles will be allowed.

Some 40,000 people are expected to travel to Slane Castle via coach with 10,000 coming from Dublin. There will be three separate coach parks depending on where fans are coming from in the country.

“We have mobilised the biggest bus hire in the country,” Mr Fox said but he acknowledged it may not be enough with many fans complaining that they cannot get a seat on any bus going to the venue. Spokesman for promoter MCD, Justin Green, said motorists should treat getting to Slane like getting to the airport and adding three hours to their journey time.

Conspicuous by his absence at this year’s press conference was Henry Mountcharles, the castle owner, who has been part of every Slane concert since the first one in 1981. Mr Mountcharles has recovered from lung cancer but is in hospital with a chest infection. He hopes to make it for Saturday.

His place was taken by his son, Alex, the next generation, who said his three teenage children are really looking forward to seeing Harry Styles on Saturday night.

He anticipated that for many of those going on Saturday it will be “their rite of passage into live music”. The majority of the audience will never have been to a Slane concert before. He hopes it will be the first of many.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times