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Self Aid For Ireland

Propaganda, Issue 2, April 01, 1986


Eire's Sunday Tribune of May the 18th got it about right with their front-page colour photo of Bono in full-concert flight and the gigantic headline, "Jobs, Cash and Rock 'n' Roll." For the 14-hour long Bob Geldof-inspired Self Aid concert of the previous day saw more than 1,200 jobs pledged in the war against catastrophic levels of Irish unemployment. It also raised more than 500,000 in donations from generous Irish TV viewers who watched the marathon rock spectacular at home. It was the most impressive lineup of Irish rock 'n' roll history ever mounted on the Emerald Isle. Virtual unknowns like Brush Shiels and De Danaan brushed shoulders and shared stage with virtual legends like Bob Geldof and his Boomtown Rats, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello and, of course, U2.

Bono admitted to not identifying with the unemployed in every aspect of their depressing situations -- "I've been in this band since I was 16 and now I'm 26" -- but he did what he does best. He lifted hearts. "This is a song about pride...don't let them take it away!" The majestic acoustic rendering of "Pride" followed a bizarre, but frantically enjoyable opening cover version of the Eddie Cochran standard "C'mon Everybody." "Sunday Bloody Sunday" led into the perfect non-sermonizing political statement, Dylan's "Maggie's Farm."

With Edge, Larry and Adam relishing the opportunity to plunder the catalogue of rock's great anthems, Bono updated the interpretations with chilling references to ever-present nuclear catastrophe. "Chernobyl's got me on the run," he intoned, in a brief trip through Lennon's "Cold Turkey." Eerie tapes of political ranting and F-11s blared in the background.

"Bad" closed the euphorically received set. A great Irish rock occasion, a feast of music for 30,000 fans in the Royal Dublin Showground and a million Irish TV viewers. But for 1,200 of Ireland's unemployed, Self Aid was even more. It was a job and a brighter future.

© Propaganda, 1986. All rights reserved.

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