Croke Park in Dublin is a huge Gaelic Football stadium holding more than 80.000 people, tonight sees the venue filled to capacity for possibly one of the highlights of Irelands year. U2's 360 degree tour started in June in Barcelona and continued around Europe on what The Edge said was just a rehearsal for their three shows in Dublin. As you enter the stadium the 1st thing that draws you attention is the huge stage known as "The Claw". I have seen lots of pictures on the internet and in the music press of this amazing feat of modern engineering, however when you actually see it up close it really takes your breath away.
The 1st band on are "Republic of Loose" from Dublin, this 9 piece band comprising Mick (vocals), Benjamin Loose (bass, vocals), Deco (keyboards), Dave Pyro (guitar, vocals), Brez (guitar, vocals), Coz Noleon(drums and percussion), Barnes (drums and percussion), Gargos(percussionist) and backing singers Orla La and Eve Ill Jones. They have an infectious funky beat which after a few tracks gets inside your head. They do their best to whip up the Dublin Crowd, it was not until their recent hit "Comeback Girl" which was the last song, that the audience started to give positive reaction by singing along to this catchy number. They have had a great year so far with notable performances at the Meteor Awards and at the Oxygen Festival they are definitely one to watch for the future.
The Kaiser Chiefs arrive on stage to an impressive reception, from the people already in the stadium, Ricky Wilson seems to be on a mission and makes use of the large stage trying to reach out to the audience in all corners of the stadium. A set full of crowd pleasers is just what the doctor ordered "Ruby", "Modern Way" and the classic "I Predict a Riot" have the desired effect and get the audience dancing and singing, not content with the large stage Ricky decided it was time to dive in to the crowd and then proceeded to effortlessly crowd surf his way back to the stage. With the crowd warmed up the last song "Oh My God" gave way to a impressive sing-a-long. The Kaiser Chiefs left the stage just as they were getting started and I'm sure would have loved to play longer, they had to make way for the biggest band in the world today U2.
After getting to the venue at midday, I was lucky enough to find myself with a bright orange wristband that gave me access to the inner pit at the front right beneath the Claw, I was positioned right in the middle and had a great view of the main stage and the walkways behind. David Bowie's "Space Odyssey" plays over the pa and that's the signal for the show to start, dry ice bellows from middle rocket shaped pillar in the middle of the claw and Larry Mullen Jnr steps up on to the stage at the rear, the noise from the crowd is deafening, Larry proceeds to bash out the drum beat of opening number "Breathe" with Adam Clayton, The Edge and Bono now joining him onstage the crowd noise increased further echoing around the stadium, soundman Joe O'Herlihy must be congratulated as the sound was excellent. The atmosphere is the stadium was just awesome. The claw showered the band with light and offered a huge 360 degree screen which gave everybody further away an excellent view, two mobile motorised walkways were moved into place over the top of the audience in the pit giving the band access to the rear walk ways and more of their adoring audience. Bono knows to well that the band has to up their game in Dublin as there are always very high expectations when playing at home. The set with littered with classics and new songs from the latest album "No Line on the Horizon", all songs were delivered in a way that no other band can.
At a U2 concert the music can send you through loads of emotions with many fans moved to tears by the sheer overwhelming passion. The songs are littered with snippets of other songs which are inserted by Bono as and when he feels like it to give the concert it's own unique feel. Stand out track from the latest album "Unknown Caller" starts up and the audience oblige the band by singing along, a heavy rain shower starts to soak Croke park, however no one is worried as Bono continues in fine voice as 3 huge electronic umbrellas pop up on stage to cover the bands equipment.
As " The Unforgettable Fire" and "City of Blinding Lights' were performed the true extent of the claws technology was revealed with the screen extending out down towards the stage combining images and video footage to give an amazing effect. I have been going to concerts for nearly 30 years and I can honestly say I have never ever seen anything that could come anywhere near to this performance by U2. Every ingredient needed to entertain has been included, the bands chemistry and history add to all of this, it could even be seen quite clearly that even Bono was moved to tears during "Where the Streets have no name" over come by the massive emotion of the occasion. Adam Clayton is pulling some great moves up on the walk way tonight thrilling his fans who are all so pleased to see him looking so well after his troubles of the past. The Edge looks like his has been decorating his bathroom all weekend with the paint splashes all over his jeans, the guitarist looks like someone half his age jumping around all over the stage clearly enjoying himself on home soil. After a stunning version of "One" the band leave the stage with everyone in the place on their feet demanding more. The band arrive back on stage, Bono is wearing a jacket covered in led lights which silhouettes him against the darkened stage. A microphone on a wire is lowered down on to the stage and the band play the opening chords of "Ultraviolet" while Bono sings into this microphone while swinging it around the stage to great effect. The band end with "Moment of Surrender" and come to the front of the stage to take their bows in front of their home audience, after years of some amazing home gigs in Dublin at Phoenix Park, Slane castle, Lansdowne Road and here at Croke Park, it was though that the band could not get any better, tonight they have proved that they are and continue to be the best live band in the world.
No Line On The Horizon
Get On Your Boots
Beautiful Day(Here come the sun-snippet)
Mysterious Ways(Inc Mothers of the Disappeared snippet)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Stand By Me
Angel of Harlem (Don't stop till you get enough-snippet)
In A Little While
The Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights( Rain snippet)
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (Remix)
Sunday Bloody Sunday(Rock the Casbah snippet)
Pride (In The Name of Love)
Walk On (Never Walk Alone snippet)
Where The Streets Have No Name
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender