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#166 U2 @ Dublin Croke Park (July 25th 2009)

U2 - Dublin Croke Park July 25th 2009

Support: Kaiser Chiefs / Republic Of Loose

Great stage, great music, great performance, great concert, great band. Possibly the best ever stage set up I have seen (and I have seen a lot of big ones).

First up were the Republic Of Loose who are a terrific Irish band with a knack for a great melody. Next up were Leeds band The Kaiser Chiefs. A great performance from them here. I had seen them headline in Dublin a few years previously and thought then that they didn’t have enough ‘big’ songs to keep the interest. Today though every song played was a winner. Terrific stuff.

U2 tours really have got to a level where the whole experience is expected to be bigger and better than the last time. So what if the music is fantastic? What about the light show? What about the gimmicks (hate that word)? This of course puts pressure on the band to live up to what people want. It is safe to say that for this tour they went far beyond those expectations. The 360 tour is huge. How they put the tour together and how, logistically, it could possible work travelling all around the world is hard to understand. The fact that it does means immense credit must go to the band, designers and crew.

A few points:

- Daylight. This would have been even better than it was if the entire gig took place in all darkness. That is a gripe I have with every stadium show though.

- The Croke Park Stadium. Unfortunately the stadium has one end that is old and unusable for concerts (it’s a historic part of the stadium which is used for spectators during GAA matches) and so the full 360 effect couldn’t be used…yet it was still jaw dropping.

- Ticket Prices. They were exceptionally well thought out. The full range was: €33.60, €59.80, €91.50 and €131.50 meaning that there was an affordable price for everyone. The standing tickets were the second cheapest ticket of those. The prices compare favourably with other major acts who charge far higher prices for the cheapest and average ticket.

- The Irish People. U2 re universally loved outside of Ireland but there is a definite split within the country itself. To be more accurate there are those that love Bono and those that hate him. Larry, Adam and The Edge are all admired and loved without question. Poor old Bono though garners a rather more mixed reaction. For me he is a rock star with a conscience. For others he is a big headed fool who never shuts up (and that is just Larry’s opinion).

In the build-up to the concerts it got a little annoying hearing people’s thoughts on Bono. Just let the guy do his job. He does it rather well after all. For all the criticism he gets it must be remembered that he and the band have brought plenty into the country. This was clearly seen at this very gig by the amount of non-Irish attending. Many had come over to see U2 in Dublin. Like Springsteen or Bon Jovi in New Jersey people want to see an artist in their own back yard.

For all I have said about the show and spectacle, when all is said and done it does come down to the music. And what great music it is. Starting off with four songs from the fantastic new album, No Line On The Horizon is a brave move but it works superbly. Starting slowly with Breathe and the album title track the band then goes up a gear for Get On Your Boots. Live it sounds like the song it was always meant to be. Magnificent lives up to its name and then we are into the hits. Beautiful Days, Mysterious Ways, I Still Haven’t Found, Angel Of Harlem. What a section of songs that is. Mid set City Of Blinding Lights and Vertigo are worthy set closers. A fun, funky, dance version of I’ll Go Crazy sees the entire band walking around the stage with Larry banging away on a drum (bongo!?) strapped to his front. Walk On, Streets and One close the main set in inspiring style. For the encore we get Ultraviolet, With Or Without You and Moment Of Surrender. A poignant way to finish.

So four new songs open the show and a new one finishes it (not to mention a few more thrown in the rest of the set). Not many bands that have been together for over 30 years could ever attempt that. Not sure I can think of any actually. It shows great bravery yes but also shows that U2 are a band with huge confidence in their material. They don’t always get it right but they do it bigger and better than most.

Quite simply his was a wonderful show from a wonderful band. They may not be to everyone’s taste but as Paddy McGuinness would say, they’ll do for me.

Ticket: July 25th 2009

Ticket Price: €59.80

Set Lists:

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/u2/2009/croke-park-dublin-ireland-13d645a5.html

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/kaiser-chiefs/2009/croke-park-dublin-ireland-23d2183b.html

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/republic-of-loose/2009/croke-park-dublin-ireland-2bd2183a.html