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"Politicians don't turn me on, politics doesn't turn me on, the way music does." — Bono

U2''s hometown gig hits dizzying heights

- June 25, 2005

by Sean McCarthaigh

U2'S VERTIGO tour reached dizzying new heights last night as the band kicked off the first of three sell-out shows at Croke Park.

Despite playing 35 other concerts in 18 cities across Europe and the US since going on the road last March, the Dublin dates were always going to be something special for the band and fans alike.

Since early yesterday, an air of anticipation reminiscent of an All-Ireland Sunday in September hung over GAA headquarters as fans defied the bad weather to guarantee a beautiful day.

Right on cue, the constant rain which fell on the city all day cleared just before 9pm as the band arrived on stage.

Croke Park became a stadium of blinding lights as a spectacular electrical show erupted to signal U2's first Irish concert since Slane in 2001.

A chorus of 80,000 voices joined Bono as he launched straight into the uno, duo, tres, catorce countdown to Vertigo.

Down on the pitch, which was one-third empty, the hallowed turf virtually heaved as fans pogoed to the next number I Will Follow.

Few people in the stands remained seated as the band served up a string of hits stretching back over almost 30 years. "Hello Dublin," Bono greeted the crowd over a slightly imperfect sound system.

Showing few signs of reported back pains and sore throat, Bono joined The Edge on one of two catwalks extending into the heart of the crowd for the next number, Electrical Co.

"This is the funky side of town - this is the Northside," said the singer before the start of Elevation. Among the many highlights were high-powered versions of New Year's Day, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own.

After a set lasting almost two hours, the band returned onstage for an encore of All Because Of You, Yahweh and a reprise of Vertigo.

Almost 250,000 people will have seen U2 play in Dublin after a further two concerts in Croke Park tonight and Monday, which will result in e60 million being spent in the capital over the weekend.

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