Wednesday, 25 February 2009

2001 August - Elevation Tour, Slane, The Long Trek!

Julie and I were driving along the motorway that encircles Dublin on our way to our next gig at Slane Castle. Bono was being interviewed on the radio, it wasn't a very nice day and he'd made up a little poem. "The rain in Slane falls mainly on the ..... crowd. We'll be dry, but they'll be cool". We laughed, Bono is so funny! We'd decided not to go to the show for the full day, but wanted to see Coldplay and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, so it was mid-afternoon when we got there

We parked in a field that was one of the many being used as car parks. Only later we realised that we could have driven on and found parking much nearer the venue. We set off to walk to the gig site. We passed dozens of buses, coaches, cars following a snakelike line of people up and down hills. When we got to the top of a hill we hoped to see where the show was being held, but no, on we went up another hill and trekked on and on and on. Eventually we crossed a bridge over the River Boyne and saw an impressive stone archway which was the entrance to a leafy lane - little did we know that we still had a mile to walk! As we got close we heard Coldplay, we'd missed them, so disappointing.

Eventually we got into the venue, which was a huge natural amphitheatre. Slane Castle stood to the right of the stage, I'd never been to such a huge show. We stayed high on the hill not too far from where we had come in. The stage was a long way off but there was a big screen that we could see fine.

It was now a pleasant, warm afternoon. The Red Hot Chili Peppers came on and I found them disappointing.

U2 took to the stage at 8.30pm. There was a massive cheer and the crowd went crazy. Bono's father had died a few days previously and had been buried the day before this show, and it was obvious Bono was naturally a bit fragile and emotional at times. When he dedicated Kite to his father thousands of lights came on, lighters, bits of paper, plastic cups - it was very moving and magical. Bono said his father was now free of his illness and would live on in him and his children and their children. During One Bob Hewson's picture was put up on the screens, it was like we were all paying our respects to him and saying goodbye.

A big surprise was the band playing A Kind Of Homecoming. They didn't perform it all that well, Bono forgot the words but it didn't matter because it was the sentiment of the song that was the most important thing. U2 also played a little of Thin Lizzy's Dancing In The Moonlight.

Being so far from the stage we found the sound wasn't that good and we did feel a little bit away from the heart of the concert. I'm not sure I'd go to another concert at Slane, it is just so big and unless you head there really early you are going to be a long way from the stage and so lose some of the atmosphere. Plus there are huge queues for everything and the toilets quickly descend into a health hazard!

At the end of the concert there was a wonderful firework display, which we watched as we headed out - we were near the exit and we wanted to get quickly. Even so it was a bit hairy at times with all the pushing and jostling, especially along the narrow way out. The walk back didn't seem as long as the walk there, but it must have been three miles each way. We initially walked past the field where our car was but soon realised and doubled back. Once in the field it was so dark we had difficulty finding our car but eventually discovered it by getting the lights to flash by pressing the remote! We were really hungry and devoured some croissants we'd pinched from breakfast at our bed and breakfast and washed them down with Coke. As we had got out of Slane quickly we avoided the worst of the traffic jams and were soon on our way back to Dublin.

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