‘You don’t realise what you miss until you lose it’ - festival boss on music returning to Marlay Park

Melanie Finn

Music promoter Melvin Benn said it was a “joy” being back in Ireland staging concerts and festivals again ahead of six days of sold-out concerts at Dublin’s Marlay Park.

The boss of Festival Republic, which runs Electric Picnic as well as Longitude with MCD, said it was fantastic to be back at Marlay Park again after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

“It’s fantastic. You don’t realise what you miss until you lose it. And we really have missed the concerts and festival and what that really means,” he said.

"You miss enjoying the music you love in a community of people that also love the same music.”

The absence of lives gigs during the pandemic was “frustrating and stressful”, he said, but this made returning to normality an even bigger relief.

Finding big-name acts to perform at the Irish festivals was easier than expected too.

“People underestimate how much acts want to perform. If you’re a footballer, the one thing that you don’t want to do is sit on the bench – you want to get out and play to your fans,” he told the Irish Independent.

“So, actually it wasn’t so much a challenge. I think we’ve put a fantastic line-up together (for Longitude) and I’m delighted with it.”

He described the July 1-3 event as “one of the premiere hip-hop and grime acts in the world” and said it was on the bucket-list for many huge artists.

Among the headline acts will be A$AP Rocky and Dave.

On the appetite for live music gigs, he said the “rollover tickets have been fantastic” given that tickets for Guns N’ Roses, who will finally play the southside venue on June 28, went on sale in 2019.

“We obviously had the Killers play Malahide Castle on Tuesday night and that was the third time their gig was rearranged,” Mr Benn said.

"So the joy of even being able to redeem those tickets and going to see the concert was obviously there for people, they had a ball.

“So I think the industry feels very strong at the moment and the demand is really wonderful.”

In under two weeks’ time 120,000 music fans will descend on Marlay Park for a trio of sold-out gigs, starting off with Green Day on June 27 followed by Guns N’ Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers on June 29.

A ring of steel will be erected around the venue.

Garda Superintendent Ian Lackey said a traffic management plan would be in place for the six days of concerts.

He said it was a “significant logistical event” and approximately 240-250 gardaí will be at the venue for the concerts at the end of this month.

He added that there would be a “zero-tolerance” approach to public consumption of alcohol during the events. He also urged attendees to use public transport where possible and leave their cars at home.

Everyone will be subject to a search at the venue and ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in backpacks or any bag larger than A4 size.

However, attendees will be permitted to bring in empty, reusable bottles to fill at free drinking-water points inside the venue.

All under-16s must be accompanied at all times by an adult.

Gates open at 4pm for the standalone shows and 1.30pm for Longitude.

Promoters MCD say they are “thrilled to be back after two years, having been acknowledged as one of the most severely impacted sectors due to Covid”.

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