I fell in love in Manhattan on Saturday. Well, figuratively speaking.
I fell in love with Slane. I fell in love with music again, with moshing, Carlsberg, John Player, the rain, summer, with festivals.
The Whigs started off the day somewhere around 2 while was somewhere between Parnell Square and Slane Castle on a Dublin Bus full of people. I missed Mona too. At that stage I was trekking through Slane, carried by the crowd. We were all in a great way.
We got into the main arena just as the balmy bass line of White Lies’ Death resonated around us. Harry McVeigh’s vocals were no match for the hoard of fans screaming “this fear’s got a hold on me”. I don’t think he minded being outshone. They followed with Bigger than Us and some other festival appropriate sounding songs. The crowd had moments of joining in suggesting that White Lies may have potential to be a hit this summer. They might have a few anthems.
It was the 30th anniversary of Thin Lizzy’s first appearance at Slane. I’ll not lie; I’m not a huge Thin Lizzy fan. I am fully aware that statement is border line blasphemy in the eyes of many. Alas, I cannot change. Still, impartially I will admit, they were great.
Elbow got it right. Of course they did. They opened with simplicity; a good classic festival tune – On a Day Like This. It was something that encapsulated the mix of love, alcohol and idiotic hope that had already begun to beguile the audience. It was, at that moment, in all respects, looking like a beautiful day. A really fucking beautiful day.
Grounds for Divorce brought anyone who was still sitting swiftly to their feet. It was the first moment that I realised we were all in this together. We, all 80,000 of us, felt the same. They finished up near 8.
I had heard that Caleb Followill had announced his band would take to the stage “whenever they bloody felt like it”. I expected a long wait. But, in a stupendous gesture of love, loyalty and devotion, Kings of Leon took to the stage not long after half 8. That’s when our journey really began.
They opened with Four Kicks. That’s when I fell in love with moshing, with jumping like an idiot to really great music. Taper Jean Girl, The Bucket and Spiral Staircase had us hooked. Caleb had us in the palm of his hand, in his music, in his riffs; and we loved it.
The Immortals brought me to another place and not long after that I was dreaming of revelry. As were the 80,000 kindred souls surrounding me. That’s what we were; a haphazard bunch of fragmented people joined together by Kings of Leon. We were whole again because of the music. And maybe I had just fallen superbly in love with Carlsberg at that stage, but honestly, that’s what it felt like. We sang Cold Desert not because we liked the words, but because we felt the sentiment. Cold Desert was something magical. There was an understanding that this song would heal it all, whatever the fuck ‘it’ was.
Fans, Charmer, Sex on Fire and Pyro were exceptional. Hands were in the air as we jumped and moshed and smoked in a sign of unwavering devotion and appreciation for the Kings. On Call was the forgotten gem of the event.
Caleb thanked us for coming. We thanked him for the longest set the Kings of Leon had ever played. About half ten they belted out Trani before leaving the stage. Caleb returned solo shortly later as silence fell. Picking up his guitar he began plucking out The Runner, a song he dedicated to his uncle Cleo who passed away the night before. It was stunning. They of course threw in Use Somebody, the biggest crowd pleaser of the night.
Standing in that field, fists in the air, surrounded by 80,000 people was one of those rare moments of catharsis. Kings of Leon did that thing that not many can do; they transported 80,000 wide eyed fans from Slane to wherever the hell they had been in their lives. They took me to a different place; to another world.
So, technically I was in Slane, but really I was falling in love in Manhattan.
By Cassie Delaney