Photo Credit: Ross Stewart
Live Review: Mo Sheerin
After a well and truly quiet turn in their careers, Dublin’s very own legendary rock quartet U2 burst back into action last year with the release of their new album, Songs of Experience. They returned home to Ireland on their latest tour with 4 dates within a week (5th, 6th, 9th and 10th of November, 2018), they did not fail to impress their local crowds and provide them with an astonishingly unforgettable homecoming gig at the 3 Arena on the Tuesday evening.
The arena waited in anticipation for the band, who kicked off at approximately 9pm. It was pleasant to see the mixture of all different kinds of audience, from young to old, from pop fans to sincere metalheads. Everyone was in great spirit and the air of Irish charm, excitement and beer filled the air. They brought in the show starting off with ‘The Blackout’ with the catchy bassline and modern pop that had the house jumping instantly.
The theme of familiarity and humility was apparent throughout their set, with Bono narrating the days of when and where indeed U2 started out, recounting tales of 4 young boys, each with a song in their hearts, hopping on the Dublin buses (without a penny in their pockets, only their instruments in their hands) trying to get to their rehearsal spaces. This was well received by the audience, and it was a particularly strong connection point for myself as a young musician. It thoroughly warmed my heart to know that egos, money and fame have not masked this band’s brains. They know where they started, and who got them to where they are now – the Irish crowds.
Visually, the audience was provided with several montages from start to finish, displaying the corrupt and ethical problems the world is currently facing. Capitalism, war, dictatorship, gender and women’s rights were all displayed with dystopian and psychedelic montages which definitely provoked the senses alongside their more modern tracks like ‘Get out of your Own Way’ and ‘Lights of Home’, in which audience members lit up the arena with a modern vigil of lights from their phones; quite a humbling sight to see.
Stage-wise, there was no area in the arena in which an audience member couldn’t catch a piece of the action. Initially the sage setup looked like something from a WWE cage match, but, of course there’s a method to this madness. It allowed the crowd to be segregated in half so they could witness the bands charisma and cinematic elements from all angles in between, which in turn, U2 certainly didn’t make short use of. They engaged with their audience constantly, the good old fashioned way.
Sound-wise, there was nothing to be faulted, Bono’s lyrics and The Edges’ guitar were mixed perfectly, so much so they had the crowd going mental with their more nostalgic and heavier songs ‘I will follow’ and ‘Elevation’.
They played more recent tracks than classic, which have lyrics and a collective sound of chants and you could definitely hear the audience join in with, but regardless of how much they have changed their songwriting methods and production, they still have that overall familiarity of classic Joshua Tree-esque U2. Surprisingly they didn’t play their top two classics on this night; ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ or ‘With or Without You’, but that didn’t really matter; they put on one hell of a show, and I’m thankful to have witnessed them and I’m personally blown away by the fact they’re nearly 40 years in the business and still top of the game in terms of attracting new and all time fans across the globe, young and old, and that in recent times is a sincerely hard thing to do.
Keep making Ireland proud U2.