Saturday, 4 October 2008

1997 August - Popmart Dublin 2, U2 Love and the Death of a Princess

August 31st. I was woken up by knocking on my door, it was Jane, I opened the door and looked at her with bleary eyes (I'm not good in the mornings). She told me that she'd heard on the radio that Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed had been killed in a car crash in Paris. We were all stunned, especially as more news trickled through that they were being chased by the paparazzi at the time. I wasn't a massive fan of Diana, but as Bono said later that day sometimes you are surprised just how much an event can shock you.

The weather was cool and wet. Dianne wanted a lie in, Sharon and Julie were going into the city and Jane and I decided to join the queue. I drove Sharon and Julie into the city and ended up doing a Bono - I went up a one way street the wrong way! I found three lines of traffic approaching and at the front of one of them a Garda car. The Guard was very stern when she approached, but when I opened my mouth and was obviously a tourist she was ok with me. I turned dropped the others off and went back to join Jane in the queue. Jackie, Julia and Linda were with her. It started pouring down, and the bin bags we bought at the Spar that morning came in very useful! Julie, Dianne and Sharon soon joined us and eventually we were let into the stadium. We managed to get a nice place right along the catwalk which we were very pleased with.

U2 came on at 8.45pm and it was evident that the rain had damaged the screen as parts were out of focus, the wrong colour or just not working. At Lansdowne the screen was not protected by the stadium wall and got all the rain hitting it directly hitting it - and boy was there a lot of rain that day! The screen did improve a bit as the show went on and the rain eased off.

It felt like this show was going to be a special one for two very different reasons. There was a sadness that hung in the air about the death of Diana that felt palpable, yet this was also a triumphant homecoming concert for the band.

Right from the start there was a great energy and emotion that bounced back and forth between the band and the crowd. The set was pretty much as usual but half the time the audience was singing so loud it drowned out Bono and he'd just stop singing and stand and watch the crowd with a big grin on his face. At the end of Pride Bono was crying, and there was such a mutual feeling of love between the band and audience, it was so intense.

During Until the End of the World Bono put his guitar down on the stage in offering to Edge then he put his arm around him, held him close and sung for around a minute. Bono and Edge's "duel" was acted out right in front of us, so close we could almost touch them.

A rousing version of Dirty Old Town got everyone singing along. The acoustic Staring at the Sun was lovely, though before they started Bono got annoyed at some idiot who was shining a laser pen into his eyes, "You wouldn't want me to get angry now would you?" he said pointedly before adding something about "people's little toys." The rain was really heavy now but caught in the lights it created a lovely effect. A bit of a technical hiccup at the end saw Bono fade out with, "Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe......."

Tonight's karaoke was Whiskey in the Jar which was great fun - Edge had to read the words off the screen. He is so confident nowadays and that's so nice to see. Please once more was a pivotal point in the show and of course has great meaning to the Irish. I love the way it morphs into Streets and I love this updated version , the screen adds to the overall effect brilliantly too.

Next it was lemon time. We were right beside the catwalk and so the nearest to the lemon we had ever been. It actually stopped right beside us and the combination of being enveloped in dry ice and the sparkling of the reflective mirrors on the lemon really created a weird effect for us. All I could see was smoke and flashing lights and it was quite disorientating. It clunk to a loud stop and the band came out but I couldn't see anything of them because of the smoke which was being blown right at us by the strong wind. Didn't see them either during Discotheque and Jane and I had a fit of the giggles in amongst the smoke.

Hold Me was accompanied by the usual theatrical which I found absolutely fascinating, especially when Bono briefly turns into MacPhisto as he stares into the camera. His whole face just changes and for a short while Bono is gone and the Old Devil is back.

Bono finished Mysterious Ways on the B-stage, something he normally doesn't do. He stopped right in front of us and started to sing MLK and Diana's picture appeared on the screen. There was a respectful clapping and then almost complete silence as Bono sung, "Sleep, sleep tonight and your dreams will be realised.....". At the end Bono was crying, so was I and many, many other people.

An emotional One and lovely Unchained Melody finished the concert. As the lights came up Candle in the Wind was played for Diana (later it was re-worded and re-released by Elton John in memory of Diana). It was hard to say anything, I felt drained emotionally. It had been an incredibly happy and painfully sad show with every emotion inbetween. People have gone on about the technology and all the money it takes to put on this show, but when it comes down to it the main components of a brilliant U2 show are, the music, emotion and communication. That's what it's all about and I know of no other band that can that can combine these like U2. This night was one I'll never forget.

After the show we met up with our friends and waited for the band to leave. It was cold and windy but mercifully the rain had stopped. There were around 40 people waiting. Scott, Edge's bodyguard came out and said he would tell the band people were waiting and it was up to the band whether they stopped or not. We were told up to line up and stay like that if a band member came across. We were not to approach them, they would approach us, "Is that clear?" Scott said. "Yes" said 40 voices already neatly lined up. It was funny really, almost like being at school, but we knew the score, if you are calm and behave there's a chance to have a meeting.

After quite a while Bono surprised us by suddenly coming around the corner. there was a ripple of excitement amongst the fans, but everyone remained in line and were well behaved (gold star teacher?). Bono didn't sign much, rather he talked and shook hands with people. He got to me and took my freezing hand into his warm, soft hand and looked up at me. To my surprise a flicker of recognition crossed his face and he smiled and said, "Hi, how are you?" I said I was ok and he then leaned over, still clutching my hand, and kissed me. I'd been hoping to say how much I'd enjoyed the show, but I was now totally lost for words! He moved on, Debbi said, "Can I have one of those?" and she got a kiss too. I watched him work his way along the line-up, so patient and attentive. I realised he was wearing an anorak, what's with this Oasis vibe?

Next Edge came along next and he spent even more time with the fans, signing and chatting. I think we are very lucky to be fans of a band who are so accessible to their fans, it means a lot to us. And the smiling faces Bono and Edge left behind on that chilly, windy night bore testament to that!

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