The Rolling Stones brought their Bigger Bang tour to a sold-out Slane Castle on Saturday and 70,000 fans, who had all paid at least €86 for their tickets, were treated to a live music extravaganza that featured impressive sounds, lights and pyrotechnics. Steven Carrollat Slane Castle
Mick, Keith, Ron and Charlie returned to the historic venue on the banks of the River Boyne after a quarter of a century, and their lively show did not disappoint the expectant masses who had travelled from all corners of the country to catch a glimpse of the rock 'n' roll icons.
In the lead-up to the concert, promoters MCD had warned fans to arrive prepared for the elements, and wellington boots and rain gear were most certainly the order of the day. Umbrellas were not permitted in the venue and dozens of them could be seen abandoned along the roadsides.
Fortunately for fans the heavy rain that was forecast held off and the ominous clouds that filled the sky for most of the day did little but sporadically release light spells of drizzle.
The long wet Irish summer resulted in conditions underfoot being soft at best and the combination of mud and the sloped amphitheatre landscape at Slane resulted in a number of punters slipping and sliding their way through the muck.
However, Dean Fleming, 22, from Tallaght was among the thousands who did not let the mud dampen their spirits. "It's a brilliant set-up and I couldn't imagine a better gig. The muck hasn't made the slightest difference today," he said.
Some concert-goers avoided the expected traffic delays by arriving on Friday night and setting up camp in nearby fields. However, for the majority getting to the venue was a slow process, with heavy traffic reported on the Dublin and Navan roads.
The show kicked off at 3.30pm, with traditional Irish musician Frankie Gavin. He was followed by African act Tinariwen and US rockers the Hold Steady, who cranked up the volume and got the fast growing crowd moving.
The Charlatans were the final support act to take the stage and once they finished their set, the venue was close to capacity and expectant fans new exactly what was coming.
At around 9pm the opening chords of fan favourite Start Me Up rang out through the PA system and a barrage of fireworks coloured the night sky as the Rolling Stones took the stage. The Stones are credited as being one of the most expensive live rock acts on the planet and they are believed to have earned about €20,000 a minute - or €2.5 million - for their energetic two hour set.
A large proportion of their set list remained the same as it was when they played at Slane 25 years ago, with Jagger and co turning back the clock as they romped and stomped their way through a fast paced, colourful show that featured hits such as Sympathy for the Devil, Midnight Rambler and Satisfaction.
The concert ended just before 11pm and the well behaved crowd were treated to an extended fireworks display as they trudged through the mud of the venue, before starting the long walk back to the car parks and buses.
Gardaí were "very pleased". There were only six arrests and 30 small drug seizures. "The day went very smoothly and despite some concerns about problems the weather might create, the system here seems to have worked well. Considering the large number of people there were very few crimes at this year's event," Sgt Ronan Farrelly said.
It has been rumoured that Saturday's show could be the group's last ever on Irish soil. However, it may well be folly to prematurely rule out another performance by this group of 60 year-olds who seem just as enthusiastic as they were 25 years ago.