I Went To Love On Tour At The Iconic Slane Castle
As someone who cried hysterically when One Direction didn’t win the X Factor UK in 2010, my teenage self could never have imagined that 13 years later, I’d see Harry Styles headlining at Slane Castle, one of Ireland's most iconic concert venues!
With a capacity of 80,000, Slane Castle has hosted the greatest legends in music history – David Bowie, Queen, U2, The Rolling Stones, Oasis, Metallica and Madonna to name a few. But, needless to say, online critics voiced their grievances that a young ex-boy band member was being added to the list.
“Harry Styles playing Slane Castle! Is personally an insult to the big acts that have played there such as The Stones, Oasis, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen etc!”
“I guess I won’t be making the pilgrimage next year so. Rumour mill had me believe that AC/DC or Pearl Jam were going to play which would be a more fitting act for the iconic venue.”
However, these nay-sayers shut up when Harry Styles sold out The Slane in a mere 17 minutes, taking the record for booking out the entire gig so quickly.
Fast-forward to a year after securing our tickets. Saturday, 10th June, 2023 arrived, the day I’d finally see Harry IRL. The line-up included Mitch Rowland (Harry’s guitarist) who kicked things off at 2:30 PM, followed by Irish DJ Annie Mac, and the final support act was Inhaler – whose lead singer is the son of Bono in U2.
While the haters were wrong about Hazza’s qualifications to play Slane, they were right about one thing – the grueling pilgrimage to the venue. AKA a 45-minute hike on the narrow, windy, uphill roads of Slane village. (Tip for future Slane-concert-goers: wear comfy footwear.)
@tpwkbecs its hell its horror #harrystyles #loveontour #slanecastle #hslot ♬ original sound - taz 💌🌙
Despite the pilgrimage (that I’d no clue I’d signed up for) my excitement grew the closer we got to the massive – and massively impressive – castle. We missed the first two support acts, but we also missed getting drenched with rain so I didn’t mind. To be honest, I was mostly just thrilled to be ticking a Slane Castle concert off my bucket list!
We arrived just in time to catch Inhaler singing their hit It Won't Always Be Like This. I’d never seen 80,000 people in one place before – it was beyond amazing. The crowd was teeming with women in feathers, couples dancing, and families with dads in pink cowboy hats.
Once Inhaler finished up, you could feel the tension from the crowd – Harry would be appearing at any second. It was truly exhilarating.
Approaching the concert date, I saw myself as a casual Harry Styles fan. I’d listen to him occasionally and enjoyed his hits. But the instant Harry’s charisma met the stage, I was immediately transported back to the 16-year-old screaming fan-girl I once was.
Harry opened with Daydreaming, bursting with energy, and the crowd went wild. He charmed everyone by welcoming them in Irish. And he didn’t butcher it like most Brits usually do – impressive!
@jasonzlivid harry speaking irish 😵💫😵💫 omg #fyp #harrystyles #hs #hslot2023 #hslot #slanecastle ♬ original sound - Jason Livid
He played a string of his hits; Golden, Adore You, Keep Driving, Daylight, She, and Little Freak. He was strutting around the stage, then working the crowd by revealing a story about once getting headbutted in Tallaght.
He continued his show-stopping performance with Matilda, Satellite, and one of my favourites, Late Night Talking. Styles then got 80,000 people to sing Happy Birthday to a random Rachel close to the stage, who had caught his attention with a simple sign.
Harry’s set went on to include: Cinema, Music for a Sushi Restaurant (with the “YMCA” intro), and Treat People With Kindness. Then came the throwback of a lifetime, What Makes You Beautiful (with “Best Song Ever” intro) – a definite highlight for me. Grapejuice, Watermelon Sugar, and Fine Line followed. As this spectacular performance wound down, Harry wished the crowd good night, telling us to get home safe. We knew this wasn’t the last of Our Harry, though.
Moments later, he burst back onto the stage, along with the intro to Sign of the Times – while fireworks exploded in the background for dramatic effect. This was followed by Medicine, and his biggest track by far, As It Was. He closed the night off with Kiwi. His firework-filled encore did not disappoint, it was the stuff of goosebumps.
@elladuffy23 sign of the times with fireworks will go down in history 🍒 #slane #hslotslane #hslot #harrystyles #signofthetimes #slanecastle ♬ original sound - Ella Duffy
As you can imagine, 80,000 people trekking through Slane Village – population 1500 – is less than ideal. It took us over an hour to get back to the car park, and another hour before the car arrived to pick us up.
Considering I spent more time trying to get to and from the gig than I did singing along with the audience, I’d be hesitant to attend another Slane Castle concert – unless I have accommodation close by. No regrets though – Harry’s performance was a once-in-a-lifetime extravaganza that I’ll never forget.