Sunday, 14 September 2008

1997 August - Popmart Dublin, A Sort of Homecoming and Aching Feet!

August 29th saw Dianne, Jane, Julie, Sharon and I on a plane headed from Leeds to Dublin. It was great to be on my way back to my favourite city. Sharon and Julie hadn't been there before so we gave them a quick tour of the U2 places - Dockers, Principle Management, Hanover Quay - before heading to our accommodation in Dun Laoghaire. Unfortunately we hadn't been able to stay at Ken and Elizabeth's because the house was already booked, but we stayed at a really nice B & B just around the corner.

We drove into town and to Principle Management where I had to pick up the tickets that I had been allocated as a fanzine editor. Julie and Sharon went in with me. We went up the marble stairs into the open plan office. The place was in chaos, people darting about everywhere, visitors arriving, phones ringing. I gave my name at the reception desk and said we were here to see Cecilia. We were asked to sit on large comfy black leather settees nearby and wait for her. I noticed that there were large wooden beams across the ceiling and like last time I'd been here the fax was in over-drive!

Soon Cecilia arrived , she was very nice and at first said she had no tickets left, but then offered me two VIP seated tickets that were not together. She apologised profusely that they were separate, but I didn't mind. I had already bought a ticket just in case these didn't materialise so they were a bonus. As I wanted to be near the front with my friends I ended up selling these tickets for cost price to two Aussie fans who were so upset they didn't have tickets and couldn't afford the prices the tout were asking. They were very deserving of the tickets and very grateful, the girl was in tears!

That evening we went for a walk on Killiney beach which was as peaceful and beautiful as ever before going into the Court Hotel for a meal for the Library Grill there. Our friends Declan and Mary joined us and we had a lovely night of good food, good company and delicious Irish coffees!

We had decided that we would try to get into the front enclosure for this first Popmart Dublin gig so that meant getting in the queue early - we were at Lansdowne Road by 9am, we really must be mad. Sharon and Julie had to wait by another entrance so I was queuing with Dianne and Jane. We would take turns to nip off to nearby hotels to use their toilets or get some food and drink. After a few hours we were herded into "pens" and still had another two and a half hours to wait before we were let in to the stadium at 5pm.

Our wait was worthwhile as we got a great position right beside the B-stage. I looked at the clock, it was 6pm which meant there was another three hours before U2 would be on stage. It's at moments like that when you are in a good position that you can't leave because you'll never get back in, you can't sit down, or go off for food or the toilet, that you wonder if you'll ever last to see U2 on stage!

The support was Ash who I didn't enjoy (though they I did like them a lot more over the years since this gig) The stadium erupted and there was a brilliant atmosphere. The show was good, no great changes, I think they decided to play safe for their first night in their hometown. The karaoke was the Irish Eurovision Song Contest winner from the 70's All Kinds of Everything which Edge dedicated to his favourite publican Paddy the landlord of Docker's.

Bono sang a lovely version of Molly Malone accompanied by 40,000 other people! He remarked that the local residents wanted fans to keep the noise down and that he wouldn't want the crowd in his back garden!

Hold Me..... was very theatrical with Bono laughing demonically at the beginning. There was a new ending with him on the B-stage pretending to impale himself on the mike stand. He did this right in front of us so I got great photos. Staring at the Sun was dedicated to, "George Harrison and everyone at the Sunshine Home for the bewildered." Bono patted Edge playfully on the bum at the end of it. One was dedicated to the journalist Bill Graham and they finished with MLK.

All in all it was a great concert and it was great to be in such a good position to see it all. I was amazed by the amount of sweat that poured off Bono, he must lose pounds during every concert.

After the show we went round the back and met up with our friends and waited. We didn't think we would get the chance to meet anyone after the chaos there had been at the RDS four years earlier. But this night there weren't that many people waiting so we hung on. My feet were killing me and my back was aching, this concert business is hard on the old body! We passed the time doing yoga exercises that Dianne taught us to ease our aching backs.

Bono came over to the fans briefly but he was quickly surrounded and didn't stay out long. Things were a bit calmer when Edge came out and he came along the line of fans chatting and signing autographs. Larry and Adam didn't stop.

After Edge left we headed home. I felt so tired and my feet were burning I couldn't wait to lie flat and take the weight off them, I don't think I have ever stood so long before or since. We got burgers at the Abra in Dun Laoghaire and I ate mine lying on my bed giving my poor feet welcome relief!

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