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by The Goal Is Soul

So here we are again! Dublin 2009 (see my Vertigo 2005 reviews of Manchester 1, Dublin 2, and Berlin).

Much advance hype about the U2 Claw - and sure enough as I flew into Dublin in the morning I had my first glimpse of Croke Park and the claw was rising high above the stands. 1 nil to U2 on that score!

However....slight moan coming up: the whole Croke Park experience (curfews and no fans allowed on 'Hill 16' behind the stage) also caused this gig to lose out on 2 major parts of the show: namely the 360 degree effect was lost - and as the claw was set back as far as it could go on one end of the pitch this was more like a concert of old. What happened to the theory of placing the claw near the middle of the pitch for a closer experience for all? Additionally, because much of the first half of the concert was in daylight it dampened down the effect of the wonderful light shows that have been a feature in Europe (where they don't seem to have these issues!).

Back to the action: after an afternoon spent in Murray's Bar on O'Connell Street (the unofficial U2 home for the weekend - tribute band, beer garden etc) we were suitably refreshed for a night in "the GAA hall" as Bono proudly announced to the expectant crowd at the start of the show.

The first thing to report - as Larry thrashed out the opening drum beat to Breathe was the fantastic audio quality at this show. By far the most clear audio I have ever heard by U2. Secondly - the best screen I have ever seen which constantly projected energetic close ups of the band and really added a high octane level of performance to the show.

Straight into NLOTH opening set - Breathe, NLOTH, Boots, Magnificant ("the magnificant Adam Clayton" Bono announced) - all new classics - and all grouped together at the start of the show....

As the show progressed into the greatest hits and live classics - the songs of worthy note were:

1. A George Harrison inspired ending to Beautiful Day ("Here Comes The Sun"). Fat chance in Ireland.
2.Unknown Caller (the star of the show!)including a great sing-a-long section with words a la karaoke on the screens. Classic U2 moment of the current tour! And as the song ended the heavens opened and Bono sang "Croke Park, let it rain" and then stood back and admired Larry's umbrella as it rose majestically over his drum kit. (The rain didn't last long).
3. Unforgettable Fire - first time I'd seen this played live. Great song!
4. Remix of Crazy - I liked it - but I can't describe it apart from saying its like a U2 rave - as it all 'kicks off' on stage.
5. Walk On - OK so I'm only mentioning this because Bono launched into the final verse by mistake when he should have sung verse 2 - and slightly lost his way....but recovered well! And that's live music for you. Additionally - great to see this song back again - should be the show closing song though - like 2001).
6. Ultraviolet - brilliant. 2nd best song of the night after UC.

Conclusion: slick stage, claw, lights (better when it finally got dark), screen, sound quality. U2's performance was so slick. Maybe a few more songs in the Ultraviolet class (ie. not played as much and great to hear live again). Also - where was the super Edge solo on Mysterious Ways of old? The song just ended! Blah!

It was great to be in Dublin for this show, and apart from the logistical restrictions imposed, the band still put on a great show. If I was a first timer I would have been blown away by this performace. I am looking forward to seeing the proper 360 show in Cardiff though...so watch this space for the review!

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