U2 – Croke Park, Dublin (22nd July 2017)

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By some twisted fortune we’ve ended up with two tickets to U2’s Joshua Tree tour in Croke Park, but in different sections of the stadium. Despite all attempts to swap them for two standing, or even just adjacent seats it seems we are doomed to sit, each alone, amongst the 82,000 odd fans. Not that I’m complaining, we’re part of the lucky ones who got our hands on tickets, and amidst the even luckier few who got a gift of tickets. So, you know, first world problems and all that. I had tried for weeks to remedy our situation, but had failed at all avenues. Then, hours out from the show kicking off we get somewhat sorted. Two tickets beside each other. Now all we had to do was sell two tickets to a U2 concert in Dublin. A fucking easy task one might think…….but they would be so surprisingly wrong it hurts.

Instantly, I regret putting the tickets up on toutless.com when I get about 25 private messages in 4 seconds. Sifting through them I, relatively quickly, have our Davin Stand ticket sold to some grateful individual named Paddy. Then commenced the saga of shifting one, admittedly, expensive ticket. Lots of bites, but nothing landed. One private message arriving back with the simple, to the point content of ‘choke on yer pint, you touting fuck’. Lovely stuff. The user obviously not really understanding the concept of touting, as both our tickets were being sold at face value. It’s not my fault MCD, or whoever, set the price at €195 for the lower Cusack stand sections with decent views.

Seconds before we give up, a young man and his lady friend from the North approach us. Taking out a wad of cash from his jeans pocket, he doesn’t argue for a second about price and even dismisses my efforts to return his change from €200. Sprinting, as much as we can, and after negotiating relatively lax security we’ve only missed the opening song from support act (yep, support act) Noel Gallagher and his friends The High Flying Birds. From there it’s a treat. Noel banging out the tunes for just under an hour. Oasis anthems and all. The crowd delighted to assist him where called upon, or otherwise. Not one for sentimentality, I must admit, I had shivers down my spine and the odd tear in my eye as nostalgia overwhelmed us.

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Attempting to compose myself, I nip out for a quick wee and to grab some more drinks, in that order. After queueing for fifteen minutes, if not more, I decide it’s best to make it two rounds. It has been painfully slow. When I arrive back, Orla is full sure I’ve been lost for the better part of thirty minutes between acts. But, in this case, I have found what I was looking for and we can now relax and enjoy Bono and D’Edge.

Suddenly the wait is over when the lone figure of Larry Mullen strolls all the way out to a small satellite stage, which extends into the crowd, sits casually on his stool before thumping out the opening beats of Sunday Bloody Sunday. It’s really very effective. As the rest of the lads join him, the crowd is now in frenzy mode even before they plough straight into New Year’s Day. Incredible moments. We’re being peeled off the rafters by the time the band get through Bad and Pride (In the Name of Love) all before they even start the Joshua Tree, which is played in full. Apparently there was even a flyover by the air corps, trailing a smoke tri-colour, which we completely missed despite having been told about it in advance.

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The screen behind the stage is huge. It conceals most of Hill 16 and towers above the band. Instead of having flashy videos or vein depictions of U2 through the years it displays images which encapsulate the vastness of America. The whole affair goes by in what seems like moments. Before anyone wants it, the band disappears off stage for the standard break before an encore. Beautiful Day, with a little bit of Starman in there, and Elevation are grand. Apart from One being amazing, the encore is a little underwhelming. I can’t say I recognised the last song at all, possibly a new one, either way it did not wow me. It all finishes a bit flat and we just sort of walk out in silence. That might be the idea though. Crowd control. Don’t get everyone excited just before they leave, have them as placid as possible as they funnel out. Even with the somewhat flat end, it was a brilliant show. There is no arguing that U2 are worth their status as one of the best around.

Thanks to Ciara and Tom for the tickets!

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