Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

In Pictures: Slane hosts Kings of Leon and Thin Lizzy

Hundreds Northern Ireland music fans headed to Slane
Ciara McNamee and Lana Crossey from Belfast head off to Slane.
Caleb Followill from Kings of Leon

Kings Of Leon got a few lessons in stadium rock from supporting U2 early in their career.

But whereas Bono and Co use elaborate stage sets like ‘The Claw', this Nashville group play simple rock ‘n' roll with an unwavering intensity, and connect to the audience through their instruments.

For a band so stoic, performing at Slane Castle in front of 80,000 fans could have been a disaster.

But on Saturday night the Kings Of Leon proved it is possible to engage an arena of this size without gimmickry.

It helped that the band could draw on tracks from their two most recent multimillion-selling albums, Only by the Night and Come Around Sundown.

There were few introductions, but with giant crowd-pleasing hits to deploy, like Sex On Fire and Use Somebody, the Kings really didn't need to say much at all.

When singer Caleb Followill did talk to the audience it was to voice his disbelief at the scale of what they were undertaking.

“I can't believe how many of you came here to see us,” he told the huge audience, which stretched up the hill at Slane for as far as the eye could see.

While there is a strong feel of Allman Brothers about the Kings' material, it's fellow Slane headliners U2 who most come to mind listening to their set.

Both groups specialise in tunes of yearning, angst and desire delivered with echo-laden guitar riffs.

In contrast to their stadium rock panache, support act Elbow were simply the wrong act in the wrong venue.

To his credit, singer Guy Garvey was one of the few performers on the day to explore the vast stage, but his voice sounded like a foghorn across the Co Meath hills.

Saturday night music it wasn't. Looking out at the multitude, there seemed little reaction to the Manchester five-piece.

Prior to Elbow, veteran Irish rock band Thin Lizzy did a much better job in warming up the crowd. Returning to play Slane after a 30-year absence, they rapidly won over the young audience who weren't even born at the time of their first headline gig in 1981.

Some had been dubious about Thin Lizzy performing without their charismatic frontman, but replacement singer Ricky Warwick was more than adequate at filling Phil Lynott's shoes.

Featuring original drummer Brian Downey back in the line-up, the first moment on Saturday when the crowd reacted together was to the strung-out opening strains of 1972 hit Whiskey In The Jar.

It was the lyrics to this song which inspired Kings Of Leon to pen single Molly's Chamber, which was aired late in the evening as the skies darkened over Slane.

“This is the longest set we have ever played,” singer Caleb Followill remarked one hour and 20 minutes into the mammoth show.

And it was more than an hour later before the Kings' reign was over at Slane and the buses left for Dublin, filled with happy revellers.

KEN SWEENEY

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