This old town don’t smell too pretty

Oasis at Slane (cameraphone)
Oasis at Slane (cameraphone)

Q: How many skangers are there in Ireland?

A: Slane.

So Saturday afternoon saw us heading out to Slane for the Oasis gig. Now, I am not ashamed of my love for Oasis and I’ve seen them every time they’ve come to Ireland in the last god knows how many years, but when the tickets went on sale late last year I didn’t even try to get them. But before Christmas, a little birdie gave me some freebies (Thanks Phantom!) so I figured we might as well pop out and see how many wrinkles the Gallaghers have added since I last saw them. Now, over the years, as each new album – hailed by Noel as “their best since Definitely Maybe” – turned out to be worse than the last, the demographic of the Oasis crowd in Ireland has deteriorated. The number of people going because they genuinely like their music dwindled and the numbers going to get in a fight and then regurgitate their Budweiser all over their Celtic jerseys steadily increased.

The last time I saw them was in Marlay Park a couple of years ago. I was actually working at the gig, so I hung around in the field behind the crowd watching the show with a few friends (why would anyone pay into a gig in that park?) and then headed backstage to work. I had the pleasure of meeting Noel that night, but more importantly I had the pleasure of avoiding the crowd. At Slane, there was no such luck.

The usual arduous journey into the venue meant that my plan to avoid The Blizzards caused us to miss a good bit of Glasvegas, though their epic displays of reverb and Scottish accents nicely soundtracked our trek through the forest and eventual arrival into the arena. I might catch them at Oxegen, but the chances are there’ll be more enticing options. We managed to locate a couple of friends in the crowd and passed time during the blandness that I think was supposed to be Kasabian‘s set by drinking mini-pints and then queueing for a full hour for the enjoyment of another mini-pint. If they were trying to make the purchasing of beer such a harrowing experience that the crowd might stay sober, their plan half-worked. Of course a huge number of people snuck in cans, bottles, flasks, etc., but one thing I noticed at the end of the gig was that I didn’t see one uniformed Garda in the entire concert arena. I saw them at the laughable security checks at the entrance and I saw one standing up on the VIP seats by the castle. As you can imagine, the filth ran free up and down the hill. There were nice, normal people at the gig too, but they were like debris scattered in a sea of greasy, aggressive, scumbags.

Aside from the great unwashed and The Prodigy‘s mildly embarrassing attempt to live up to past glories by shouting “Fuck” continually over their back catalogue, Oasis played quite a good set. The set consisted of a bunch of the old hits with a couple of their better songs thrown in, quite similar to the tracklisting of their recent best of Stop The Clocks. Having not heard them play anything from ‘Be Here Now’ in years, “My Big Mouth” was a curious inclusion. It was nice to get “Half The World Away”, which Noel double-dared the audience not to sing along to. It’s a welcome change to their sets from recent years to hear “Champagne Supernova” and “I Am The Walrus” to close the gig. I for one had grown somewhat tired of their cover of “My Generation”. So, with the gig over at 10:30 and the fireworks doing their business overhead, we began the seemingly endless journey home. We eventually got on a bus at midnight and the bus finally got into second gear and escaped Slane about 1am. Not as bad as others that I heard from though.

As a flipside to all my negativity about the crowd at Slane, I was delighted to take in a bit of the Sitric Picnic in Stoneybatter yesterday. We were having a long overdue Zabba jamming session in my house all day, but we went over to Sitric Road to see the tail end of festivities. It was a really nice little gathering with music, giveaways, people selling seeds and worm juice and a patch of grass added to the middle of the road. It was extremely refreshing to see a community, especially in the inner city, putting on something like that. There were all sorts of people there and despite the relatively large crowd, everything was pleasant and peaceful and under control. It’s a nice example of what can happen when people are trusted to look after their own area and well done to everyone involved.

Inspired by the lovely Oasis lads, I’m about to shoot off to Manchester shortly. Have a nice week.

MP3: Noel Gallagher – Half The World Away (Live in Toronto) – [Buy]


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