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by PatrickL

All That They Cant Leave Behind-Slane Again

Despite my initial reservations about mixing sports and music, it was Irelands one and only winning goal against Holland (beamed live between support acts to Slane castle from Landsdowne Road soccer stadium) that kicked off the crowd on this, U2s second homecoming within a week. From here on the mood was jubilant, the battle for any further support act halved. Not that Ash needed much help. Their mix of Ramones type rock with their cute Irish young band appeal ensures their charm.
As one nearby observer put it Its not so much that they look good. Theyre just sexy. Their set, culled mainly from their current Free All Angels release spawned such popular gems as Shining Light, Sometimes and Candy.
Between acts I took in the view. Seated a bit back on the hill this week, not far from the castles front door, the view dips down to the stage on my right and to people as far as the eye can see on my left. Theres no denying the venues beauty. Its scope of trees and hills, not to mention the river or Castle itself.
It takes something special to fill the shoes of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers who played the last support act slot to U2 the week before. With Moby we get just that. A colourful string section precede his arrival on stage. Then the high priest of dance turns Slane into the biggest rave party Ireland has ever seen, as 80,000 people get on down to tracks like Go and So Real, before the atmosphere is hushed again with more ambient moments from his current Play album. But surely the most surreal moment of the day came with a rendition of the Father Teds (classic Irish television comedy) Eurovision cracker My Lovely Horse. This song is performed with none other than Father Dougal McGuire himself!

After that, the clouds, which have been threatening rain all day, move in to make the venue much darker than the previous weeks glorious sunshine. U2s 8.30pm appointment comes and goes. By the time they do come onstage some ten minutes later its well into dusk. Their reception is as rapturous as ever. The band rises to the occasion and belt out storming versions of Elevation and Beautiful Day. From the outset Bono looks fresher. Free of the burden of his afters funeral the week before. As a result it is clear that this show will not reach the emotional intensity of its predecessor. It couldnt and arguably shouldnt. If all the anniversaries (20 years since their first Slane gig etc) have been marked, then this show in itself is still a first of firsts. Namely the first time a band has filled Slane twice. And considering the size of the venue it is still their biggest Irish home crowd. The celebration continues with Until The End Of The World and New Years Day. A rocking Out Of Control, as fresh as the punk anthem of twenty years ago provides the only real change to this weeks set. It also facilitates for Bono to tell the tale of how U2 got the money together to record their first single. How 500 from each of their fathers contributed towards their success. He also acknowledges how most of their fans have spent that on them by now. (Yeah, and the rest!!) Sunday Bloody Sunday ends dramatically with Bono naming all 29 victims of those killed in the Omagh bombing of three years ago. Wake up Dead Man is all the more poignant as a result. Kite benefits from its placing further down the bill. This song, by which the Elevation shows emotional pitch is now measured, is a much more joyous affair now than when Bonos Dad was dying. There is jubilation and hope now where once there was despair. I know that this is not goodbye sung more out of tears of joy than those of sadness. Bono reminisces fondly of a lasting image he had of his and Edges fathers walking down Madison Avenue at three in the morning, pissed as farts! The healing has begun. This almost light-hearted tone sets the pace for Angel of Harlem, Desire and Staring At The Sun. All I Want Is You is dedicated to my beautiful wife, Ali while Where The Streets Have No Name lifts the crowd like only it can. Bono keeps it a family affair with Mysterious Ways where it is young Eve who steals the dancing slot. And what a great little mover she is too, father and daughter gyrating playfully around each other. Pride follows and then the Five Masters Of War type version (versus the Mark Chapaman rap) of Bullet The Blue Sky as Bono rages at the leading exporters of the arms trade. With or Without You, One and Walk On follow, bringing to a close the end of U2s European tour some ten minutes short of its normal two hour set. The spirit is in the house Bono assures having thanked the road crew and management. Its all a bit sudden, paving the way for a repeat of the spectacular fireworks display to a recording of the The Unforgettable Fire. First timers to the show, Im sure, are delighted. Four show veterans like myself mourn the absence of Bad and also the fact that Irish audiences didnt get a chance to witness the theatrical New York or the special reworkings of The Fly or Discotheque. Thinking of my first ever Slane shows some sixteen years previous, where Bruce Springsteen worked his set for three magnificent hours, I wonder if U2 got off lightly. God knows, with ten albums under their belts, they have the repertoire to do it. Okay, so there is no pleasing some of us. The higher U2 set their standards the more we crave! While the finesse of the indoor shows is somewhat diminished outside, Id just like to thank U2 for three fantastic weekends. From Londons Earls Court to Meaths Slane Castle, consider me well and truly elevated

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