So July 22 was U2 in Dublin at Croke Park… sigh… I’m still processing the awesomeness… It is hard to put into words the significance of going to a U2 concert in Dublin (their hometown, for anyone who might not know…), but I am going to try…
As an über fan (I don’t know what else to call us at this level of fandom…), I am used to people asking me why I go to so many U2 shows and why I travel to do so, and why Dublin again. (Well, it’s more of a rolling of eyes, biting the tongue, oh that’s nice, didn’t you just see them, you are crazy, why would you do this, why oh why Dublin – What is so special about U2 in Dublin??? type of moment…)
I’ve already talked about how Dublin is a Mecca for U2 fans. There is just so much band history here, so many locations that make them who they are and it is thrilling to walk in those footsteps, experience these influences, etc. But going to see U2 live in Dublin is something else entirely out of this world and fans from around the globe flock to this city for the chance to see them here.
Part of the wonder of a Dublin show is being able to spend time in the city and visit the U2 sites. Part of it is the assembling of the U2 fan community – the tribe. After months or years of talking with each other on social media, a tour (and Dublin in particular, because we all want to go) gives us the opportunity to meet in person. The city rolls out a welcome mat for us (mixed with hotel gouging, but whatever), Pubs plaster their walls with U2 stuff, hang welcome U2 Fans flags outside their doors, tribute bands play for us, and an aura of celebration and love for this band takes over Dublin.
“Buuuut,” I can hear you asking, “surely it is not just the city of Dublin and these locations and meeting other fans that make the shows so freaking amazing…. ?” And you would be right – though seeing this beautiful city and hanging out together is icing on the cake, it is something in the shows themselves that make them so special.
Something about the energy of a home crowd. Here, more than anywhere, there are fans of the band that have been fans since U2’s high school start up, that knew them before they were a band, when they were the Hype , when they were the Feedback – that’s forty years of fandom, 40 years of growing up with and loving this band. Their family and friends, their teachers, spiritual leaders, etc. are here and in this audience. The love that emanates in a Dublin audience goes well beyond band and fan, this is family.
There is a depth and range of emotion for both the band (I am assuming – I haven’t asked them :D) and the audience at a Dublin show that is not experienced in the same way anywhere else on their tours. The connection between U2 and fans at their gigs is legendary (the lengths Bono, in particular, goes through to connect and break down the barriers between band and audience is outstanding); for these home shows, that connection is jacked up to the Nth degree and epitomizes their lyrics “there is no them, there’s only us” in a way perhaps not intended by the band but truth nonetheless. There is no band, there is no audience, there are only tens of thousands of us, together, having this incredible, emotional, almost religious experience. You think I’m exaggerating, but you just have to see the joy, awe and rapture on U2’s and our faces to know it’s true…
(Also – holy crap could people breathe on the floor?! so many faces, so many people squished together!!)
At a home show, you can feel the electricity building in the air like nowhere else. The hairs stand up, goosebumps on top of goosebumps. And the second their entrance song starts (Whole of the Moon by the Waterboys for this go around), a collective inhale followed by a collective scream, and we are all on our feet in anticipation!
Yes, that anticipation is true of any show, but it somehow peaks in Dublin. The energy, sadly, is not true of all shows – energy can differ dramatically between gigs (one of the reasons I like to go to many shows in a tour). This time, at Croker, with all the extra significance this venue brings, both anticipation and energy were Out of Control (see what I did there, ha!) from the first note of Whole of the Moon and only intensified throughout the night.
It was complete madness from the minute Larry started walking down the stage, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any louder, any more spine-tingling, he started banging those drums for Sunday Bloody Sunday, and the crowd burst into song at the top of their lungs, bouncing like 80,000 Tiggers on speed.
It is not new for the audience to be singing together, loudly, at U2 shows; usually the band will even stop during one of the songs and let us sing much of it for them. It is also not new for us to be jumping in unison during certain songs… But this was full out and all out. This was intense and overwhelming with passion and loudness. We were singing like this throughout the vast majority of the concert, not just the major songs and carried on at volumes close to those that made the Beatles stop touring. You know, where they couldn’t hear themselves over the fans…
At least we were (mostly) singing and not screaming… I’m serious! we were LOUD! It was jaw-dropping. I actually couldn’t help but involuntarily stop singing and eject a “WOW! Holy Crap!” It shook me to the core, witnessing 80,000 plus fans singing, jumping, crying, laughing, loving this band all at once, and throughout the concert. Oh the feels! The goosebumps!
I’ve said before (as have so many others) that going to see U2 live (anywhere) is like going to church, the Church of U2. There is a sense of worshipping these Rock Gods; we raise our hands in devotion and exaltation, we read and recite their lyrics like scripture, we congregate, we are moved by the spirit of the experience, we cry, scream, faint. A Dublin show is this times infinity (ok, dramatic, I know, but I really can’t quantify it…)
And they worship us back… They are equally moved by us, perhaps even more so, for as incredible as it is for us to see them on stage singing these songs that have had such a significant impact for us, this soundtrack to our lives, imagine what it must be like to look out from that stage and see 80,000 plus people singing your songs word for word, jumping up and down in unison, pumping fists when you pump your fists, feeling all that love (check their faces in the above photos again… Are those not faces of Rock Gods moved by their adoring fans?). Especially in your hometown where you struggled to make it, where you gained both your first fans and hecklers.
Umm and before I wrap this up – the night began with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. So, you know, some Oasis tunes…. Not bad for an opening act…
Then there was the stellar flyover by four jets, leaving an Irish Tricolor trail of smoke over Croker during Streets…
And, well, my first time purposefully seeking autographs led to witnessing the four cars enter the stadium by police escort…
And I am absolutely shocked, shocked I tell you! that U2 did not singing A Sort of Homecoming… I was willing to bet money that they would, it is just so fitting…
So there you go. U2 in Dublin…. there are reasons some of us go to these lengths to see them here…
What do you think? Have you seen them in Dublin? This tour? Or in the past? Was it worth it? Is it on your list of things to do? What are your reasons?
And I’m dying to know if there are there other bands that have this significant of a location that fans flock too? I’ve seen Madonna in New York because it seemed like a great place to see her – but it’s not even close to the same as U2 Dublin…
And coming up next, show 5 for me (of this tour): Brussels!
For more photos from the Croker gig (and Vancouver, Santa Clara and Pasadena), check out my Gallery page.
And, finally, as always, please feel free to share this post, and like it 😀
I’ve seen U2 35 times total in the US, plus once in Canada. Whatever city I travel to see them in, I get just a hint of the sensation of being in that city, because for me I’m really focused in travelling to see the band. My laser focus on U2 means I can’t really appreciate the city I’m travelling through to see them.
For this reason, I haven’t gone to see them perform in Dublin, a city I lived in for over a year in the late nineties, a city I love so much, the city where I met the band outside of Hanover Quay one night then unknowingly sat in a pub a mile away from their public filming of “The Sweetest Thing” video a week later. If I travel across the ocean, I want to be present in Dublin, rather than miss it due to my U2opian tunnel vision.
You have me rethinking that viewpoint though! Thanks for sharing your experience.
Love and Peace,
Thanks Marcy!I love your blog by the way 😀 I also lived in Ireland for over a year, close enough to Dublin that I went probably once a week. It remains my favorite city in the world. I totally get what you mean about wanting to be present in it when you are there. I’ve seen U2 in Dubs on these last 2 tours and I have to give myself days around the gigs so I can enjoy my city and do/see all the things I love there. Luckily, some of that is a nice blend of U2 and Dublin stuff :D.
I find my own love of Dublin just heightens the U2Dublin experience, but if I only went for the concert, I’d feel just wrong… Like I didn’t get enough Dublinness…
On the other hand, because I have been there so much, there are plenty of things I don’t need to do there anymore, a lot of the touristy stuff for example. So that cuts down on the pull between time for Dublin and time for U2 in Dublin. 😀