July 27, 2009

U2 in Dublin: One Fan's perspective

From Tonyfrattarolli.com


U2-Live Croke Park-The 360 Tour July ‘09

Posted by Tony F on Jul 25, 2009 in Uncategorized |

A good friend of mine Peter Falahee and I made the trip to Dublin to see our favourite band U2. We were to be part of an electrically charged night filled with material from their new album “No Line On The Horizon” plus many classics dating back twenty five years.

Pete and I in front of The Claw

Pete and I in front of The Claw

On entering Croke Park ones breath was taken away by the sheer size and scale of the “Claw”, the 360 degree stage set that was to be the centre of almost two and a half hours of raw energy and power.

At 8.39pm Joe O Herlihy, U2’s sound engineer, started the intro. Space Oddity by David Bowie. The place went mad and out from the back of Hill 16 walked Adam, Bono, Larry and the Edge. Larry quickly sat behind his silver Yamaha drums and started pounding the toms of the opening track “Breathe”. Croker was heaving and one thing U2 always seem to get right is their opening number. I have witnessed them many times before and they nail it every time. It sets the tone and mood of the gig. This was no exception. This was followed by “No Line, Get On Your Boots and Magnificent” all three from their new album. This took some balls to open a gig with four new tracks but showed how critically aclaimed “No Line On the Horizon” has become. Both Adam and The Edge made great use of the outer ring of the stage which brought them closer to the punters and which was to be the appeal of the 360 degree tour. Unfortunately because Hill 16 is not a seated area, the stage was not set in the middle of the pitch but what the heck, it was U2 and it was Rock n Roll at its best. One thing that was noticably missing from The Edge’s set up was his rack system with effects that resembled something from inside a Boeing 747. They all went for simplicity on stage and power in the songs.

“Beautiful Day” and “Elevation” had the fans going vertical. This from my seat in the Hogan Stand was an incredible sight and the goose bumps were rising. Bono’s voice is still as good as ever and continuously hits those high notes all the time. The true brilliance of any band is their ability to replicate live what they spend many hours recording in a studio. U2 do this to the letter of the law all the time. I was impressed by Bono’s lack of talking between songs. He did however welcome all out of towners to U2’s home, Dublin and made reference to Hill 16 which had the crowd in raptures.

Bono at his best

Bono at his best

The Edge donned an acoustic guitar and started playing the opening chords of “Desire” which ironically was their first British No. 1. Himself and Bono did a beautiful acoustic version of “Stuck In A Moment” which had a personal rememberance for me. Bono then paid tribute to Ronnie Drew and slipped into “The Auld Traingle” which was quite impromtu. “One” and “End of The World” followed quickly.

The sound and lighting set was incredible. It was like something from “Close Encounters”. A 360 degree screen threw images of the band right to the back wall of Croke Park and as the evening fell darker the vibrant colours from The Claw lit up Croke Park like the biggest 4th of July fireworks display one has ever seen. The suspended PA system meant that Larrys drums were pounding into your chest like a steam train coming at you and this coupled with Adams thunderous bass lines. There were a few occasions when the vocal line got a bit lost but one would put this down to the logistics of the stage set.

Close Encounters

Close Encounters

The classics were coming at us fast and furious. “One”, “End of The World” and “The Unforgettable Fire” a great song IMO took the crowd to a new level. The sky over Dublin had fallen conpletely dark and every now and again white spots would circle the venue and 80,000 heads could be seen for miles. After “City of Blinding Lights” Bono screamed “Uno, Dos, Tres, Catorce” and off we went with “Vertigo”. A remix of “I’ll Go Crazy” had Larry don a conga, come from behind the kit and walk the circumfrence of the B-Stage playing intermitentally. It was like a rave and a great crowd pleaser.

We were now entering the final phase of the gig and when Larry started the military drum roll for “Sunday Bloody Sunday” spellbinding video footage of the Pro-Democracy protestors in Iran hit the giant screens. “Pride” and “MLK” followed before over fifty people wearing Aung San Suu Kyi masks walk on the stage for “Walk On”. Bishop Desmond Tutu makes a welcome appearance on the screen and my two U2 favourite songs of all time are played.

“Where The Streets Have No Name” and “Bad”. I have not heard “Bad” played for many a tour and the four lads leave the stage to the crowd singing part of “40″. “How long to sing this song”? The stage went into darkness before they reappeared for the encore.

The Milky Way

The Milky Way

Bono asked Willie Williams to trun off the lights on stage and asked us all to turn on our mobile phones to create what he called “a milky way”.

“Ultraviolet”, “With or Without You” and “Moment of Surrender” were the final three tracks and brought everyone back down to earth after what was a roller coaster of a set.

The four lads applauded the crowd, embraced and congratulated each other before disappearing back into Hill 16 where they had come from some two and half hours previously.

We witnessed an incredible musical event. U2 performing in their home town, sounding better than ever and completely enjoying their music and their performances with each other. I have seen them well over fifteen times and continue to be blown away. They have the ability to re-invent themselves and create that bond with their audience which is quite difficult especially when standing in front of 80,000 people.




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