Slipping, he falls to the muddied ground, much to the amusement of his slightly more sober comrades. Undeterred, the half-clad stranger makes a mud-angel and continues to sing along with his favourite band. This is Slane after all, and Foo Fighters are on. Nothing can ruin such a perfect combination, not even a spot of torrential rain.
So the shower came down and the show went on, but the 60,000-strong crowd didn’t have to go it alone. Ever the gent, frontman Dave Grohl braved the withering weather right alongside us, walking away from the protection of the stage and out to the crowd on a specially made pontoon, getting up close and personal with his legion of fans.
Windswept and damp, he reminisced about previous trips to Ireland, including a walk around Cork City ahead of Nirvana’s infamous gig in Sir Henry’s in 1991.
Tourist boards will be glad to hear the down-to-earth rock star even rented a car to travel the Ring of Kerry on one trip, accompanied by his mother and his sister. The family had decided to explore their ancestral home, and it was bad news for any Irish fan with a bit of a grá for the Grohl — apparently every woman here looks like his mother.
While the singer’s between-song conversational tidbits were all well received by the masses, they weren’t all as positive. Cutting remarks were made about a Telegraph reporter who apparently asked the singer how it felt to play “an outdated form of music”.
Rock is dead, he said.
Judging by the disapproving hiss this statement was met with, the crowd at Slane did not agree.
And suddenly, with only minimal warning, it was right back to business, with hits like ‘Everlong’, ‘The Pretender’, and ‘Times Like These’ rocking the crowd’s absolutely soaking socks off.
Three covers served as the icing on the cake, with Foo Fighters belting out hits from Thin Lizzy (‘Jailbreak’), Queen (‘Under Pressure’), and AC/DC (‘Let There Be Rock’).
While there can be no doubt about who owned the show this year, appreciative nods should also go to the support acts, most notably Hozier and Kaiser Chiefs.
It’s a little unusual to see a solo singer-songwriter play a venue as large as Slane Castle, but Wicklow native Hozier controlled the stage with enviable ease. The soulful singer delivered a rousing set — ‘Take Me to Church’ was by no means the only ace up his sleeve, but it was, as you’d expect, the tune that wrangled the most life out of the masses.
Meanwhile, Kaiser Chiefs were their usual upbeat selves, busting out crowdpleasers like there was no tomorrow, warming everybody up for the sheer bedlam that was to follow.
Despite the seemingly unruly atmosphere that could be felt pulsating through this year’s Slane attendees, the majority of the tens of thousands were reasonably well behaved. Pushes and shoves were few and far between, and any more serious knocks were quickly apologised for.
In the campsite before and after the gig a communal atmosphere prevailed — many unlucky drivers stuck in the mud were attended to without question by passers-by while anyone who managed to successfully start a campfire invited their neighbours to bask in its much-appreciated warmth.
Having skipped last year, the future of Slane has been the subject of speculation in recent months. Those speculations can now be easily dismissed — not only is Slane back, it’s back with a bang.