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Bringing It All Back Home
Bob Dylan at Slane - The music, the magic, the mayhem and so much more...
Niall Stokes, 27 Jul 1984
On the approach road to Slane village, Gardai stopped on-coming traffic, explained about the riot in the village the previous night, and admonished one tired journalist to take care. Rumours that a thousand people had been involved in the assault on the Garda station were quashed by Radio 2 news reporter Richard Crowley. Having been there throughout the night and the morning, he estimated that no more than 200, 300 people had in fact been involved.
At 9.30, the village centre was wiping sleep from its eyes, and examining the pile of human and material debris it contained. Windows were inevitably boarded up, broken glass littered the pavements. People, still drunk and scarred from the previous evening's outburst staggered around in search of milk, water, cider.
As the morning wore on, thousands of fans arrived in Slane in waves of denim. While ticket touts and hawkers did their business, the In Tua Nua van passed almost unnoticed through the village centre.
By 11.30 a.m. the crowds were streaming into Slane from every and any angle; it seemed like a good time to head for the concert site.
Into the site you go and as always, even at this early stage there's a crackle of excitement in the air.
First impressions? The stage isn't anything as extravagant as the one the Stones used - there are no catwalks on either side, simply because Bob Dylan ain't Mick Jagger - but it's impressive nonetheless. The flags of various countries which frame the stage, with the tricolour in the middle, tell you that this isn't the Bob Dylan tour of Meath - it's the Bob Dylan European tour come to Ireland; an international occasion. Stand for a while and take it all in: the huge green amphitheatre with the castle perched high on the right, and, down below, the sparkling River Boyne running straight behind the stage before curving away to the left behind tree-shrouded hills. Not for the first time it strikes you that Slane must be among the most beautiful festival locations in the world.
At precisely 1.00 p.m. In Tua Nua filed on stage . . . with a mere 10,000 on the site they had to break down the barrier of confusion and apathy that always greets the first band on the bill. Judging by the response they received - not tumultuous but respectable nonetheless - they succeeded.