Tuesday 17 September 2019

U2 homecoming thrills fans

A sort of homecoming: Bono and Adam Clayton perform on stage in Dublin last night.
Photo: Collins
A sort of homecoming: Bono and Adam Clayton perform on stage in Dublin last night. Photo: Collins
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

U2 thrilled fans by delivering on their promise of a 'special' homecoming gig at the 3Arena last night.

More accustomed to open-air stadiums, the Dublin rockers raised the roof off the quayside venue on the first of four sold out 'Experience + Innocence' tour dates in the capital, picking up where they left off in 2015 with the rapturously reviewed 'Innocence + Experience' tour.

More than 14,000 fans, many of whom had travelled to Dublin from all over the world to see U2 play on their home turf, were treated to an opening featuring Noel Gallagher's 'It's a Beautiful World' playing out over Charlie Chaplin's powerful speech from 'The Great Dictator' and visuals of the ruins of war across Europe.

The setlist remained unchanged from their Belfast shows, spanning their four decades on the scene, but drawing heavily from their most recent album, 'Songs of Experience', the companion album to 2015's 'Songs of Innocence'.

Seven of the album's 13 tracks featured, including show openers 'The Blackout' and 'Lights of Home', which sent fans into a frenzy as the band members appeared within the 102ft screen that divided the arena.

A healthy dose of nostalgia came courtesy of six 'Achtung Baby' tracks from 1991 including 'Even Better Than The Real Thing' and 'Acrobat'.

Over the course of six months, including the North American run and the European leg, the band has performed for almost one million fans in 30 cities, and received rave reviews across the board.

Having played to huge stadium audiences around the world, including Croke Park with its 82,000 capacity, last year on 'The Joshua Tree' tour, songs from that seminal album were perhaps understandably overlooked this time around.

Aside from that tour - a rare, indulgent flashback - it's clear U2 are not a band content to peddle on nostalgia alone.

Tickets for the Dublin dates sold out within five minutes in February, such was the frenzied demand to see the band play a more pared-back gig, and playing indoors in Ireland for only the second time in three decades (the first was 2015 and, prior to that, in 1989 at the then Point Depot) certainly created a more old-school rock show experience, albeit with cutting edge technology.

Despite the more intimate venue, the show was no less spectacular visually. Among the advancements on this tour is the addition of The Barricage, which spans the entire length of the 3Arena and allows the band to perform within, under and around it.

The LED screen is super high res and the spectacular visuals are complimented by a state-of-the-art sound system created by Joe O'Herlihy, U2's longtime sound director.

The stage features a smaller E stage, increasing the intimacy between band and audience with almost every seat in the house getting up close and personal with Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton.

U2 suffered a setback just eight weeks ago on their second date in Berlin when Bono suddenly lost his voice mid-concert.

Recovery was speedy, however, and there were no signs of any lingering vocal issues last night as Bono belted his way through from the rousing opener.

The band also play the 3Arena tonight, Friday and Saturday.

Irish Independent

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