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"This is the only town on the planet where they're not going to notice a 40-foot lemon." — Bono, in Las Vegas on the PopMart tour

by Matt McGee

The debate is raging at the moment.

My wife is utterly convinced tonight's show was better than last night. I'm not.

That said, I will admit that one moment from tonight's show far superceded anything and everything I've seen so far this tour: The band has just finished another rip-roaring, ass-kicking, high-stepping version of Mysterious Ways (a song I'm falling in love with again thanks to these two shows). Bono is out on the b-stage, alone; the band is in position on the main stage. I'm waiting for the opening guitar riff of "One" to kick in -- that feeling of anticipation where I know it's all about to end, and dammit, I'm gonna enjoy it while it lasts. The crowd is going wild -- Mysterious Ways was awesome, after all. Bono turns to walk toward the main stage. Still no guitar to start "One." Bono puts his head down as he walks, looks like something's wrong. Looks sad. Maybe crying. Edge starts playing, but it's certainly not "One." What is it?!!? Bono's still walking back, head down, walking slowly. He starts singing "MLK":

"Sleep ... sleep tonight ... and may your dreams be realized."

As he gets to the "dreams" part, the videoscreen is filled with Princess Diana's smiling face. It hit like a hammer after that Mysterious Ways, but U2's always been the type to twist and turn your emotions on a dime. They sure did tonight ... instant tears. What a moment. He changes all the pronouns in the song to refer to Diana, who died in a car crash in the wee hours this morning. The images stay on the screen ... and stay ... and stay. Enough already! Bono finishes singing, the images are still up there. He gets to the mic, main stage ... "I was stunned to hear the news today" he says. Edge starts into "One." "I really think we all were," Bono says, and starts into "Is it getting better ....." What a moment.

Well, "One" continued ... awesome. During the instrumental at the end, Bono talked about the Irish and the English all being in mourning. He eventually thanked a lot of people for coming out ... including Michael Stipe, who saw both shows. "Thanks to Michael Stipe ... mumble-mumble ... losing my religion." He thanked us on behalf of the band, "From Malahide ... Artane ... Malahide ... and Finglas & Ballymun," for Adam, Larry, Edge, and himself, respectively.

This was the greatest of a show filled with great moments, but for whatever reason, I just didn't connect like I did last night. My seats were infinitely better -- in the stands, Adam's side, halfway down the catwalk. But tonight's show just didn't have that certain something I felt last night. It's like this: the "parts" of tonight's show were better than last night. But last night's show, my first-ever in Dublin, was greater than the sum of its parts. Make sense? Hope so.

Notes on another damn cigarette butt (this country needs tobacco reform badly), which also happened to be soaking wet with all the rain:

MOFO: Bono was VERY "frisky" for lack of a better word. Really challenging, taunting the crowd practically. Lunging at the folks around the b-stage, pretending to throw punches their way.

FOLLOW: crowd crazy again, but video screen is starting to act funny -- must be the heavy rain, as a large section behind Adam is completely off.

GONE: great, as always, crowd seemed to not care as much as last night's crowd. Bono started the song by repeating, "She's gone ... she's gone" -- the first of many references to Diana.

EVEN BETTER: For some reason, I have it in my head that he added some lyrics, but don't quote me on that. Video screen seemed to get better somehow. Crazy glue?

LAST NIGHT: Bono finished with his nightly bit of crowd-surfing, and he paid the price for it. The front row folks *really* went after him, you could see the commotion on the video screen. He disappeared into the sea of arms as the song ended, and the band continued straight into "End of the World." Still no Bono. Hello? Maybe we should stop the show a moment? Nope. Bono eventually made his way up the stairs slowly, and rather than begin singing on his cue, he was busy giving the folks in the front row some kind of stare-down. I got the impression he was a bit pissed, but I have no evidence. He eventually found his mic and started singing, albeit an 8-bar later than he should. He directed the band through the extended intro, and all was well again. During the bridge, Bono sang "Beautiful girl, big black car ...." in another reference to Diana.

END OF THE WORLD: great as always; Bono held his red guitar over his shoulder the whole song, until the guitar solo started. He walked toward Edge (at the intersection of the b-stage and main stage) and held his guitar out as an offering of sorts while Edge soloed. Awesome! He eventually got to Edge and placed the guitar down on the catwalk, and did the "I am not worthy" pose as Edge continued to solo. Then they went into the now-standard "duel."

NEW YEAR'S DAY: Bono stayed out on the b-stage after the "duel" with Edge. Edge was late getting back to his perch on the keyboard, so he missed the first note or three on piano. Great version of the song, Bono momentarily lost his mic at one point, and his roadie was up on-stage in a flash to give it to him -- Bono grabbed the guy's arm and hugged him as he sang the last verse, great moment, great crowd reaction. I'm starting to get emotional for the first time tonight.

PRIDE: as great as last night, but I don't think I saw the video of the burning crosses tonight. Might have just missed it, though.

DIRTY OLD TOWN: awesome to get to sing this with the Dubliners, and I promise you every single Irishman in the stadium knew all the words. Bono added his own second verse, because even the Dubliners had to stop singing. I think he was singing something about Lansdowne, but not sure.

STILL HAVEN'T FOUND/ALL I WANT IS YOU: this just sounds great together! Bono completely skipped the old pre-"Still Haven't Found" speech, not even mentioning "This is POPMart, this is what we did with all the cash you gave us" like last night. Tonight, he was walking toward the b-stage and he thanked the crowd for all their support during the whole Lansdowne legal mess, "The support we've felt the past couple weeks has been incredible" and the crowd goes into a frenzy. I'm getting emotional again. Bono: "But we have a saying: Kiss the future. Fuck the past." MAJOR crowd frenzy, and major emotion out of moi. :-) Toward the end of "All I Want," as the crowd is going crazy with screaming "YOUUUUUUUUU!" at the top of our lungs, Bono actually sang a bit of "Bad": "I'm wide awake ... I'm wide awake ... I'm not sleeping."

STARING AT THE SUN: the sound system started to act up before this song started, there were some random guitar-sounds coming out for no reason. It was raining VERY heavily on Bono and Edge. Bono, still fighting the crowd, points to a fan in the middle of the stadium and says "You better get that fucking laser beam off my face, I don't like it." Crowd roars with approval. Bono has one more thing to say: "Little toys. Don't make me get cross with you." Hmmm, pretty pissed to say the least. That handled, he dedicated this to his brother Norman, "for teaching me the only chords I ever needed to know," and to Edge's brother Dik, "for doing the same." Friends nearby think they also heard a dedication to Ali, but I couldn't hear it if so. At the end of the song, rather than singing "Oh-oh-oh" like on the album version, Bono sang "Joe-Joe-Joe" for Joe O'Herlihy -- a reference to the audio troubles that continued in the rain.

WHISKEY IN THE JAR: Great to hear all the Dubliners singing this karaoke, but let's face it -- this could be the worst song ever written. And I'm including things like "Come On, Eileen" and "Safety Dance." :-) I probably would've enjoyed it if I had about 4 pints of Guinness in me, but I'm not even sure on that account. Edge dedicated it to Paddy who runs the Dockers bar in Dublin.

MIAMI: Ummm, was it just me or did it suddenly get very hot in the stadium? I'll cut to the chase: the Miami girl was good. I'll share one piece of evidence, then move on: when Bono gave her the umbrella, she started rubbing it between her thighs. Ahem. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this song?

BULLET: great version of the song, but for some inexplicable reason, people in my section started sitting down. (Maybe they were still worked up from the Miami girl?) Anyway, I was getting too angry at the idiots around me to recount anything extraordinary that happened here, but I do recall there was no bit of "America."

PLEASE: Okay, now I'm really getting pissed. The idiots aren't standing up. I felt like grabbing the nearby idiots by the neck and shaking them: "This is YOUR song, pay attention! It's not supposed to mean anything to me, he wrote it for you people!" I didn't do that, of course ... call me a wuss. GREAT version, getting emotional again, idiots notwithstanding.

STREETS: I hope nothing needs to be said about this ... wow!

DISCOTHEQUE: great, as always

VELVET DRESS: nothing extraordinary to report, people starting to sit down again, though.

WITH OR WITHOUT YOU: crowd goes crazy, great version of the song. During the instrumental at the end, Bono thanked "the local residents." Nice touch. Bit of humor, methinks.

HOLD ME, THRILL ME: Well, this is fast becoming a major reason to see the show. Bono's antics with the camera, staring into it like a madman as he sings "They want their money back if you're alive at 33" is just amazing! And after he puts his shades on the camera and walks away, the video screen switches from that camera shot (seen through the shades) into a shot of the smiling MacPhisto ... and then into the collage of dead faces we've seen most of the tour so far. It occurs to me tonight that Bono is blatantly putting MacPhisto into his grave. It also occurs to me that Bono's madman act of staring into the camera is all done without his shades on, and he's looking at himself up on the big screen as if to say "So this is how it looks without the shades?" Very intriguing.


All in all, a terrific show -- but with all my emotion last night and getting caught up in the Dublin atmosphere, I'll vote for last night's as the better show. My wife, who never got caught up in that other stuff during either show, says tonight's show was better. So be it.

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