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"We were a pretty crap wedding band actually." — Bono

by Noel Bell

It was 24 June and opening night at Croker finally arrived. True to form it rained. Also, the event security management were a bunch of monkeys who treated the fans queuing up with contempt unlike at Twickenham when the staff there could not have been more helpful and friendly. There was total chaos outside this venue. Some fans who had queued up all night were told at 8am that they had been queuing up in the wrong place and were put at the back of the "correct" line. Whilst queuing up, fans were prevented from sitting down by event security in the line or were threatened by ejection and put at the back of the queue. However once in the stadium the vibes got better :-) The modern Croke Park looked amazing. The stage was set up in the legendary "Hill 16" which is where the Dublin fans stand in Gaelic football matches. I saw the band here in 1985 when the stage was at the Canal End in a battered old stadium. This new stadium represented the new Ireland and seemed the perfect setting for U2 in the heart of Dublin’s North-side. Bono later shouted that it was good to boom from the Hill. I got into the eclipse again and the stage was on a higher level than at previous venues. This was apparently due to the need to protect the turf. Most people in the eclipse were fans who had travelled from other countries. The expectancy and anticipation was intense around the stadium leading up to Showtime, far better than the low key Manchester date I attended and better too than the enthusiastic Twickenham crowd. This was the place to see them on the tour. The crowd response, participation and general enthusiasm was unrivalled. It was special to hear "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in the stadium where the original British atrocity took place in 1905 when Gaelic footballers were shot dead by British agents. It was also special hearing Bono sing "Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own" as he was clearly very emotional dedicating the song to his dad. Bono looked vulnerable as he walked down the “b” stage with the spotlight on him, trying not to break down in front of 82000 spectators. After the song, Bono remarked “look what you’ve started”, the exact same remark as at Twickenham. More spontaneously however Bono claimed Northsiders were funky people (although he now lives in the posh part of the Southside of the city). The weak points of the night included "Wild Horses" when the band seemed to lose communication with each other. However in fairness this was only the third time they played the song live. The sound was apparently pretty crap for those at the back or middle of the venue as the speakers were relaying Bono's voice with a slight delay. The concert included the usual lectures about the plight of the African socio economic situation and of the need to demonstrate for justice in Edinburgh during the G8 summit. Bono also asked us to support Live 8, an event which the band would be attending on July 2 along with Elton John who allegedly spends Ł250,000 on flowers per year for personal use. Musically however the band was in fine form and “Bullet the Blue Sky” sounded amazing with Edge playing a starring role. "All Because Of You" and the second "Vertigo" were also powerful although “Pride” sounded tired. “Miracle Drug” was dedicated to the children from Crumlin Children’s hospital that were the guests of Edge on the night. There was no "Bad" or "40" but this was made up by Bono declaring that it didn't get better than this: playing in their hometown and in this stadium. It was another great night for fans of the band but perhaps not for those who suffered from the poor sound quality in the stadium.

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