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by Darren O''Beirne

Mick McCarthy had just screwed up Ireland's last chance of qualifying for the World Cup. Sonia O'Sullivan had proven that her Olympic fiasco was no once off fluke. In short it was a bad time to be Irish. National pride was at an all time low. In my heart I knew that I should feel proud of my heritage, so off I went to Wembley for a fix of Irish pride.

My only previous experiences of U2 live were concerts back in Dublin and Cork. I always wondered whether U2 were as big as the Irish media made out? Did other nations really take them as much to heart as us long term Irish fans always have? A stupid question really, but I needed proof.

I was very sceptical of this PopMart concept, thanks to descriptions of the Lemon et al. I was continuously hearing. The lack of stereo speakers in Wembley added to my worries, specially after the unbelievably crap mixes the support bands had been given. The lights went down, the crowd leapt up, somebody had stolen my remote, U2 now controlled the transmission.

Pop pop PopMusik...pop Pop popMusik....yeah, yeah yeah, get on with it. There they are! Mofo first up. I wasn't impressed. I Will Follow follows, all is forgiven...oh yeah it's U2. Great move to juxtapose old and new. A technique which they pulled off so well throughout the set. During Zoo TV we had to listen to new stuff for over half an hour before being treated to New Years Day. U2 seemed more comfortable in mixing the order of their catalogue. The set gelled far better than Zoo TV's.

Bono and Edge's acoustic version of Staring at the Sun was great. Way better than the wishy-washy sounding original. Edge appeared to be playing what appeared to sound like Spanish style finger picked guitar. Has he been taking lessons?

Please was also great, and was dedicated to us Irish in the audience. Thanks Bono! The funky part towards the end of this song was especially cool. The reaction to songs like Pride and With or Without You was enormous. The audience ad-libbed for about five minutes after the band shut up. Bono seemed sincerely impressed.

One fault is that the gig seemed to peak towards the middle and then kinda faded out. Finishing on Bad would have been perfect. Unfortunately no Bad for the night!

Great gig. Being Irish meant alot that night. U2 conquering London was like trouncing England at soccer in Wembley and getting out of there alive. Except we only had four players that night to challenge their sixty thousand.

U2 certainly are something for all Irish people to be proud of, seeing them in Wembley truely brought that home to me for the first time. See yee in Dublin guys!

One final criticism. What the hell is the reason and sense behind confiscating plastic lids for plastic bottles??? Wembley grow a brain please!

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