The U2 boys are back in town - with a bang

Bono on stage at the 3Arena last night. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Eamonn Sweeney

'We've spent the last nine months touring the world and explaining to people about what the Northside of Dublin is," Bono announces to an ecstatic 3 Arena on the opening night of the great U2 homecoming of 2015. "Well, we don't have to do that tonight, because we are in the Northside of Dublin."

It is a surreal and somewhat overwhelming experience to take in, especially considering that throughout the nineties and noughties, U2's gigantic Irish shows were hosted in fields and stadiums such as the RDS, Lansdowne Road, Slane and Croke Park.

Amazingly, this is the Fab Four's first Irish show in the great indoors since New Year's Eve 1989, in the old Point Depot long before this venue received a 21st-century facelift. It is mind-boggling to look back at it now, but their Dublin gigography includes shows in the Top Hat, Dún Laoghaire, the ill-fated Stardust in Artane, McGonagles on South Anne Street, Harcourt Street's TV Club, and of course, the Baggot Inn.

Their formative early influences are explicitly referenced by the opening track 'The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)'; a powerful curtain- raiser for an emotionally charged evening featuring the entire U2 gamut of love, loss, war and peace.

The first section is a relatively straightforward run-through of early classics 'The Electric Co' and 'I Will Follow' interspersed with newer material from 'Songs of Innocence'.

Proceedings change gear dramatically when Bono talks about his late mother. "It is a strange thing for a grown man to admit that losing my mother aged 14 led to starting this whole adventure," he confesses, as poignant home footage of her is beamed onto a giant video wall and the band perform their touching tribute to his mum, 'Iris (Hold Me Close)'.

In a concert overflowing with highlights, 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' segueing into 'Raised By Wolves', a song about the devastating Dublin and Monaghan car bombs of May 1974, is a stunning, jaw-dropping moment. It proves U2 haven't lost their capacity to interpret the tangled history of this troubled isle and continue to ask searching questions. The song concludes with the simple message: "Justice for the Forgotten."

U2 take over the 3 Arena this week. If you're going, you're in for one the most moving and captivating gigs of your life, as the boys are back in town with a bang.