It is two and a half years since Harry Styles performed at the Grammys wearing a lime green feather boa and since then his fans have adopted his style(s) as their own.
The $2,000 one-off feather boa that he wore to the Grammys is out of the price range for his fans, but the cheaper versions have been bought in advance for fans who going to his concert in Slane Castle.
The Party Shop in the St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre in Dublin has a long row of bags of pre-ordered boas on the floor and an mannequin at the entrance dressed like Styles promising “feather boas galore”.
Store manager Sarah Collery said they have sold 300 to date and expect to sell a lot more between Friday and Saturday as fans make, for what most of them, will be their first pilgrimage to Slane. A particular favourite is the hot pink feather boa which went within hours of being in the store. The feather boas retail for €15 and really do have feathers in them, she says.
Friends Emma Cody (17) and Caoimhe Ní Chiardha (18) from Dublin were in buying accessories. It will be their first time visiting Slane Castle. “My parents went to U2 in Slane [in 2001] and now we are going to see [support act] Inhaler and they are one of my favourite bands,” Ms Cody said.
“This is huge for all Harry’s Irish fans, but it’s also huge for him,” her friend adds. “How many people get to perform at Slane in front of 80,000 people? He will remember it and we will remember it. It’s going to be a huge moment for everyone.”
An unlikely fan is David Banbridge who is 53 and from London, not the Harry Styles demographic one would expect. Only about 5 per cent of fans attending will be male and most of them will be fathers or partners of fans.
A lot of them will be there under sufferance, but Mr Banbridge says he is a fan in his own right, his 26-year-old daughter having bought him and his wife Emmanuelle tickets as a present. “We left our four kids at home and here we are. I love him [Harry]. He reminds me of Mick Jagger back in the day.”
Derry native Carmel McPartland is returning to Ireland with her 13-year-old daughter to see Styles perform on Saturday. It is the second time the pair will have seen the singer live: they saw him play to a packed arena last year in Manchester, where they live.
McPartland’s middle daughter, Ida, is her concert partner. “For the first one I was going with her, but for this one she might be coming with me,” Ms McPartland says.
Sophie Ritter is a 21-year-old literature student from Austria flying into Dublin to see Styles perform this weekend. She secured her tickets at the presale stage but when her parents heard the singer would be performing at Slane Castle, where the likes of Queen, Bob Dylan, Madonna and many others have performed, they decided to make the concert weekend a family holiday and got tickets too.
“It’s very nice to have someone to drive, take photos and pay for [merchandise],” Ritter laughs. “But it’s nice to have that family moment.”
The last time Styles played Ireland he visited the Vico Baths swimming spot in Dalkey so Fáilte Ireland have sent him a pair of pink shorts with the slogan “three for a euro” which the singer heard on Moore Street and repeated on stage the last time he was in Ireland.
The village of Slane is preparing for what used to be an annual invasion, but which has not been held since Metallica played the venue in 2019 as a consequence of the pandemic.
There could hardly be a more different audience in age or gender profile than the erstwhile titans of thrash metal who are twice the age of Saturday’s headliner.
The weather is promised fair for Saturday and will be a pleasant 19 degrees in the sunshine with only a slim chance of a shower. The ground is bone dry from the lack of rain. Stilettos and high heels are not advised.
Local councillor and publican Wayne Harding said villagers are looking forward to the day out. “The concert promoters have done a hell of a job. The site looks like a small town. The production that has gone into it is staggering.”
Slane Castle owner Henry Mountcharles, who has overseen every concert at the venue since the first one back in 1981, was absent from the press conference on Wednesday, but remains in charge, according to his son Alex. Henry has been receiving treatment for lung cancer for years and was in hospital last week with a chest infection.
“With a suppressed immune system, that is something he has to deal with,” Alex explained. “We are hoping he will be there for show day. We have a family council of sorts, but the buck has always stopped with him. So it should, it’s his gig. We all advice and support.”
In the hiatus since the last concert, the estate has expanded its distillery business, opened a restaurant and added glamping to its services. “The estate is now becoming a sizeable hospitality and events business in its own right,” he said.