MORE than 60,000 rock fans will flock to Slane on Saturday to see rock legends, The Rolling Stones, perform live at Slane Castle, exactly a quarter of a century after their first appearance on the banks of the Boyne.
Fleets of buses from all over the country are being provided to ferry the fans to the concert site and special traffic and security arrangements are being put in place for the sell-out show.
The Stones` `Bigger Bang` tour sees them return to Slane, joined by support acts, The Charlatans, The Hold Steady, Tinariwen and Frankie Gavin. Tickets for this year`s gig were limited to 60,000, with a reduction in capacity due to the introduction of seating for the first time.
Construction of the massive stage began yesterday (Tuesday) and castle owner, Lord Henry Mountcharles, said that, while the stage for previous concert usually travelled to Slane in 16 juggernauts, the current stage had to be transported by 25 vehicles.
"There is a huge IMAX screen incorporated into the stage. In fact, somebody suggested that it looks as big as the castle itself," he said. The bulk of the seating also had been installed last week and there has been further extensive work carried out on the castle ground.
"Bearing in mind what has happened because of bad weather in other venues, we have had extensive work carried out on the ground. We have had landscaping done by the people who have worked on the K Club and Lansdowne Road," he added. "The work is steaming ahead and we are looking forward to Saturday."
Lord Mountcharles said it was strange to be welcoming back the Rolling Stones after 25 years. "I still remember their first concert here in 1982 very clearly. They took Slane as a venue into a whole wider area, so it was natural when I heard that they were touring again to try and bring them back," he said. "The Bigger Bang tour is a huge production with a massive light show. It is a piece of rock and roll history," he said.
Although it is now 45 years since the Rolling Stones played their first gig at the Marquee Club in London, they are still considered one of greatest rock and roll bands in the world by their legions of fans.
They have released 55 albums, selling over 200 million albums worldwide and have had 37 top 10 singles. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and, in 2004, they were ranked fourth in Rolling Stone magazine`s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
The Charlatans recently released their greatest hits album `Forever: The Singles` which included chart-topping tracks and live anthems spanning their entire career from 1990 to 2006, including `North Country Boy`, `Love Is The Key,` `One To Another,` and `The Only One I Know.` It is the band`s second greatest hits package following 1998`s `Melting Pot`.
The Hold Steady are `the band of the moment` in the US and are exciting audiences and critics alike. They are being compared by the US music press to giants of rock AC/DC and Thin Lizzy. The title of their latest album `Boys And Girls In America`, is a reference to a line from Jack Kerouac`s classic novel `On the Road` and was recorded with producer John Agnello.
Tinariwen have one of the most entrancing sounds to emerge from Africa in years. They have been described as `The Stones and The Clash of the Sahara rolled into one` and have been performing at a host of festivals this year including Glastonbury, Lovebox, Latitude Festival and now Slane Castle. Their new album, `Aman Iman`, has received rave reviews.
Frankie Gavin and Hibernian Rhapsody`s performance of `Jigs, Reels and Rock `n` Roll` at Slane Castle will coincide with the release of their new album `The Full Score`.
A close personal friend of The Rolling Stones, Frankie Gavin has guested with The Rolling Stones on their `Voodoo Lounge` album and with Keith Richards on `Wingless Angels`. He has recorded 16 albums with De Dannan as well as a number of solo albums and three collaborations.
The car parks in Slane will open at noon on Saturday and the concert gates will open at 2.30pm.
Frankie Gavin is due on stage at 3.30pm, Tinariwen at 4.30, The Hold Steady at 5.45, The Charlatans at 7pm and The Rolling Stones at 8pm.