Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen knew that when they took the innocence + eXPERIENCE tour to Dublin, it would be an emotional time. But even their expectations were surpassed – and then some – on a spectacular final night... -
Having kicked off iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE in Vancouver last May, tonight’s final U2 gig in Dublin – the last of four sold-out nights in their hometown – should officially be the end of the 2015 leg of the tour. However, with two Paris shows postponed, following the cowardly terrorist attacks of November 13th, the Dubliners still have unfinished business in the city of blinding lights. They’ll be playing those rescheduled shows next week.
Even so, playing in the modern iteration of the iconic venue where they once famously announced that they were going away to dream it all up again, this show feels like something really special, an alchemical culmination of everything that has led up to it. It’s as though the whole tour has been building up to this one.
From the moment they blast off with ‘The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)’, Bono, Edge, Larry and Adam totally own the audience – and the audience in turn are happy to submit to these rock ‘n’ roll heavyweight champions of the world.
The reconfigured staging means that there’s no fans behind the band, as there have been in almost all other venues, but it makes little or no difference to the impact of the show, or the atmosphere. Indeed, it makes things feel even more intimate. In his recent Hot Press interview, Edge reckoned that they were going to blow the roof off the venue – and he was barely exaggerating.
There’s an audible “Wow!” as the onscreen visuals kick off for ‘Iris’, and the dazzling tech spectacle that comprises iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE begins to unfold. It’s a particularly emotional song for Bono anyway, but tonight he really gives it his all, howling as though he really can connect to the other side. Whatever strange energy he’s summoning – or maybe it’s just the encouraging warmth of the crowd that are driving him – but tonight he’s the ultimate alpha rock star.
There are many high points. But equally importantly, there’s also never a dull moment, from the beginning to the suitably dramatic, choreographed end. While the visual effects are truly astonishing (there were more gasps as the band appeared inside the stage), they can still pull the plugs out and create amazing music – whether on ‘Cedarwood Road’, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ or ‘Raised By Wolves’ – a segment that ratchets up the drama in powerful style. A stripped-down ‘Every Breaking Wave’ is perhaps even more emotionally entrancing.
There’s massive applause as Panti Bliss joins the band onstage for ‘Mysterious Ways’. And next up is the Queen of Rock’n’Roll, Imelda May who delivers a stirring vocal performance and dances like a dervish on a heart-thumping ‘Desire’. To bring the show to a close, their late tour manager Dennis Sheehan is remembered with a stirring version of ‘40’.
The last time U2 played this venue (“It will always be The Point to us,” Bono quipped at one point), they were four men in their thirties. Tonight, now all in their fifties, they were men in their prime. Fuck cynicism, this was proper traffic-stopping rock ‘n’ roll.
If you missed it… well, you’d never know. They might just be back this way when the eXPERIENCE leg kicks in. Start counting the days...