Last week it was announced that Slane Castle won’t be going ahead this year, troche the second time in four years that this has occurred. While there’s nothing uncommon about this, for sale with there sometimes being two or three years between Slane gigs, buy it’s reasonable to assume that Slane might never go ahead again.
Henry Mountcharles reasoning for not putting on a concert this year is that it’s too difficult to find international acts to come to Ireland. However that’s simply not the case, with a number of huge gigs taking place in the country over the summer. Whether it’s the Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire or Macklemore in Marley Park, whatever Dance acts play Oxegyn this year, Garth Brooks in Croke parc (x5), the Longitude festival in Marley Park (again), the likes of Elton John and Lana Del Ray at the Marquee in Cork or the yet to be announced Electric Picnic line up, there truly does appear to be something for everybody this summer in Ireland. This is part of the problem for Slane. While it’s very possible that no acts could be found to play at the venue, it’s also possible that Slane has simply lost its place in the Irish music scene.
When you talk to somebody that was at one of the early Slane gigs, it sounds like an almost legendary occasion, be it the Rolling Stones in 82’, Bob Dylan in 84’, Springsteen in 85’, Queen in 86’ or Bowie in 87’. You’d never hear somebody talk about more recent Slane gigs in the same way. While it’s possible that those acts were superior to what came after it, it can’t be true that none of the performances since have lived up to them. When looking at the early gigs in Slane, the context that they played in is vital. For a lot of the acts mentioned above it was either their first or within their first handful of appearances in this country. Due to a myriad of reasons, Ireland simply didn’t have the ability to attract top music talent until Slane Castle starting hosting gigs in 1981. It was the first time vast numbers of people got to see acts that they had listened to or seen on television, live. Things have changed in Ireland since then, for the better, and now hundreds of live acts can appear in Ireland every year, mainly due to there being a lot more venues. Improvements in communication and transport as well have meant that main stage acts regularly appear in Ireland, which is far different to the situation that the Slane took place in. There’s a lot to be said about Slane’s atmosphere, which is regarded as its finest detail. I can’t comment on this accurately, given that I’ve never been to Slane, but surely any band that’s worth your attention should be able to create a unique atmosphere at any gig, be it Slane Castle or a local pub.
Losing Slane would be a blow to the music scene in Ireland, in the sense that an iconic venue that hosted some of the biggest names in music will be gone, but realistically it’s not a loss that would be missed. There was a lot of questions asked last year when Bon Jovi was announced as the headliner for Slane, with the general consensus being that in a way they were a band that was appropriate for the venue. Past its prime, and a group that most of the country had moved on from, the same could be said for the venue itself.