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-- Bono, on Pop

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Ruling Revives Rock 'n' Roll

Irish Times, August 02, 1997
By: Kevin Courtney


Rock music may not appeal to some people in Lansdowne Road, but the verdict came down yesterday afternoon that the two U2 concerts scheduled for the end of this month can now go ahead.

The overturning of this week's High Court ban is good news for the 80,000 fans with tickets for the PopMart gigs. It's even better news for those who will be coming from around the world to hear U2 perform in their hometown.

The Supreme Court decision is also good news for live rock 'n' roll, a creature in danger of extinction in Ireland since planning permission first appeared on the concert circuit. Outdoor gigs have had a difficult few years but yesterday's ruling will have helped to halt the legal attack by their antagonists. Perhaps now we can begin to rebuild Ireland's outdoor music calendar, reinstating events such as File, Slane Castle and Castlegar Sports Grounds.

But let's not get too optimistic. The ruling in favour of PopMart has been a good one, and presumably if Grungebucket or the Techno Chainsaw Massacre had gone to the Supreme Court in the same circumstances they would have been as successful.

When PopMart opens its doors on August 30th and 31st, we will finally get to see the big scary lemon and the colossal yellow arch, and we'll also get to watch the biggest television screen in the world.

Somewhere in among the dazzling barrage of animated images by the likes of Keith Haring and Roy Liechtenstein and the gleaming spires of light which will pierce the Dublin sky, there will be four musicians, Bono, Larry Mullen Jr., the Edge and Adam Clayton, struggling to maintain control over this supermarket of kitsch.

At the PopMart Tour's opening night in Las Vegas on April 25th, the band seemed to be having difficulty getting on top of the technology. Reports from later shows suggest they have reasserted themselves and PopMart now purrs along like a well-tuned rock 'n' roll juggernaut.

There have been some changes and modifications since PopMart began, and U2 have jiggled around the setlist as it suited them. But this is basically what the Dublin fans can expect to see when PopMart rolls into town:

After a support slot by Northern Irish Wunderkinder Ash and a slamming, big-beat DJ set from Howie B., the giant screens will flash up and the sound of M's "Pop Musik" will be heard. U2 will arrive onstage via a catwalk which juts out from stage right.

Bono, dressed in a boxer's gown which covers his scaly "superhero" costume, Adam in shell suit and dust mask, and the Edge in cybercowboy getup. Unless, of course, they decide to dress up a bit for their homecoming.

© Irish Times, 1997. All rights reserved.

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