U2 confound the doubters to blow away Croke Park

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By Nadine O'Regan

Check in your cynicism at the door. U2 triumphed, after all.

The band might have failed to sell out their three Croke Park gigs (a symptom of Ireland's economic malaise, or of their struggle to shift copies of No Line On The Horizon?), and endured decidedly mixed recent reviews, not to mention complaints about everything from Bono's bombast to their tax-avoidance decisions.

But last Friday night, U2 blew aside the negativity to deliver a nuanced, energetic and at times genuinely breathtaking and spine tingling two-hour set.

There are, however, times when U2's hyper-calculated approach works against them: the magic that can come with a more truly spontaneous live show is often sacrificed in favour of an almost corporate-style brand of efficient roof raising.

Owing to problems with the venue, the show could not work as promised in the round - Hill 16 lay disappointingly empty - but there was no trace of the sound-quality issues that had bedevilled the Croke Park Vertigo shows in 2005.

U2 opened with four tracks from No Line on the Horizon: Breathe, the title track, Get On Your Boots and Magnificent. Although dressed up beautifully by Edge's sympathetic, soaring guitar lines, the tunes themselves are a little pallid (or, in the case of Get On Your Boots, misguided). It took fifth track Beautiful Day, from 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind, to truly get things going.

Hit after hit followed: Desire (a lovely, stripped back version), Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride (In the Name of Love), City of Blinding Lights, Until the End of the World, Vertigo and Where the Streets Have No Name. When Bono sang the chorus of Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of, it seemed as if he was talking about Ireland itself. He knew it, too.

''Look at yourselves," he implored the crowd. ''Smart, sexy, undefeated. There's nothing we can't do if we believe in ourselves." Later, he dedicated a song to Robbie Fox, the owner of the now defunct Renard's nightclub in Dublin, presumably in recognition of the latter's troubled fortunes recently.

U2 can't lift a country out of recession. But they can cheer us up a bit. And, through a spectacle of staggering proportions, they did exactly that.

© 2009 Post Publications Limited

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This page contains a single entry by Rita published on July 28, 2009 4:10 AM.

Wage review . . . U2 . . . Mortgage rate . . . Daily break was the previous entry in this blog.

U2 Croke Park gig a rehearsal for Clare? is the next entry in this blog.

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