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“He is a superb showman, but there is something more going on . . . Something to do with politics, kids, freshness and breakthrough. And love." — Joan Baez, on Bono's Live Aid dance

Big ''Hello'' as U2 Come Home to Excited Fans

- June 25, 2005

by Kieran McDaid

Hello, hello, opened the show and Bono didnt have to wait long for a reply as Dublins favourite sons, U2, took to the stage at Croke Park in front of almost 80,000 hometown fans.

All four band members walked to the front of the stage before playing a note to accept the adulation of fans, some of whom had slept outside to get their tickets months ago before repeating the trick last night to be first into the venue.

The scale and volume of the welcome that greeted the lads, who grew up nearby, must even have shocked men who are feted across the globe.

So high were spirits when first song, Vertigo, hit, parts of the crowd seemed noticeably dizzy.

Even the rain could not dampen the spirits of the excited crowd as they waited for U2 to take to the stage as a Mexican Wave and its accompanying roar reverberated around the ground.

But as the concert got underway, it was clear the boys had come home and Bono couldnt resist inquiring how the crowd was and whether they were okay in the rain.

Fans had travelled from across Dublin, Ireland and the world for the first of U2s homecoming concerts at the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

As the second song, I Will Follow, blasted out, there were thousands of volunteers to do just that.

By the time the gates opened before the scheduled 4pm this evening for the first of three sell-out gigs, a handful of fans had already braved a rainy night camping out to ensure they got the best spots for the show.

U2 manager Paul McGuinness said the band were apprehensive but very confident before the show and that confidence was well-placed as the crowd provided as much noise as the amazing sound system.

The 28 metre-high stage, which took a team of 82 to erect, ensured fans were treated to a spectacular stage show, the like of which only U2 could, and would, put on.

The massive steel frame of the stage, which had to be specially adapted for the requirements of the GAA stadium, took three days to build and as it appeared to grow more dominant in the fading light, it proved a worthwhile labour.

The set lists for the three Dublin shows were due to change but Fridays nights crowd appeared more than happy as all the songs were sang back at the stage with gusto.

Everyone seemed to agree that they still hadnt found what they were looking for, but this must have come close.

One U2 fan, Martin Burgel from Cologne in Germany, said he had waited for four weeks to get tickets for tonights concert.

Its the best thing in the world. I think this is one of the biggest days for me, he said.

Dublin has been gearing up for the concerts for months, with hotels booked out across the city for the weekend and roads closed around the stadium since this morning.

A garda on duty at the stadium said there was no arrests and the crowd was as well behaved as any seen at such an event.

Although, he added some ticketholders must not have shown up as the crowd was slightly smaller than represented by the 80,000 tickets sold.

Tickets for the three gigs have been going for as much as 500 euro (330) on the internet after they sold out within hours of being released.

As well as Irelands most famous rock band, the fans at tonights concert were also entertained by a blinding set from Northern Ireland band, Snow Patrol, and The Radiators.

On Saturday The Thrills and Paddy Casey will be lining up to support U2, with Ash and The Bravery on Mondays bill.

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