Eminem in commanding form – and still very, very angry

An Irish hip hop act on the support bill wouldn’t have hurt, but the main man’s delivery is still flawless

Eminem: has there ever been another performer who gets so irritated within four minutes?

Eminem: has there ever been another performer who gets so irritated within four minutes?


Slane Castle

In terms of delivery, there can be little doubt about Eminem’s modus operandi: he begins from a point of mild annoyance, then ricochets into a state of vein-bulging apoplexy. Has there ever been another performer who gets so visibly and audibly irritated within the space of four minutes?

Eight years after his cancelled show at the picturesque venue, Slane Castle finally gets Marshall Mathers and his crew. That his crew includes close associates Slaughterhouse, Chance the Rapper, Yelawolf and Earlwolf is indicative of how big a say the Detroit star had in the support line-up.

Is it fair to say that, with the exception of Plan B (London’s mouthy rap/soul act whose on-stage presence is both reassuring and aggressive), there would be a high proportion of the capacity audience that wouldn’t know a supporting line-up tune from a hip-hop hole in the wall? Just guessing.

So, unusually for Slane shows, the support line-up isn’t a pick’n’mix catering for a variety of musical tastes – this gig is hip-hop through and through.

That there is no Irish hip-hop act on the bill should also be noted. All too often in the past, some Irish acts have been included on Slane Castle line-ups out of tokenism, budgeting, strategic nepotism or a mixture of all three; this year’s line-up would surely have benefited from a very relevant fit if it had tagged on to the bill an up-and-coming Irish rapper – there are enough out there struggling to make themselves heard.

The support acts come on stage, view the slowly filling field from under their headgear and go through their paces; if there is one primary flaw of hip-hop is that its repetitive nature can either hypnotise or tire. It’s mostly about the beats and delivery, the ebb and flow, and it has to be said that in a field this size only Plan B’s punch-drunk tunes land hard enough to make an impression.

Arriving on stage more than an hour after the officially programmed time of 8pm, Eminem takes control of the crowd and command of the stage.

Like the runt of the litter, there’s something both wary and tenacious about him, but his bullet-point deliveries on new song Survival and a raft of hits such as Lose Yourself, It Was Just a Dream (Airplanes), The Way I Am, Stan, Like Toy Soldiers, Cleanin’ out my Closet, Lighters and Love the Way You Lie is, quite simply, flawless.