It seemed appropriate to pick today, the day U2 begin their Dublin shows, to take a look back at the U2 Go Home video from the Vertigo. Any time U2 appear in their home country it is a big deal of course, bringing out huge lines of fans but also huge lines of detractors. As with anyone who gets famous, the “tall poppy” syndrome exists with U2, where there are people only too willing to insult them, be rude about them, or generally take shots. As a fan I always find it irritating to see, but lately I have taken to ignoring those people. Haters gonna hate, as they say, and why should I take my time to listen to them? So, on to the show.
Slane Castle is a huge venue, I don’t know how many people are there but it seems like all of Ireland (okay, 80,000 according to the liner notes). The problem with that is that it makes the stage tiny when you are standing at the back, some of the shots from way back are terrible, a sea of people with the stage an inch tall. Now I know that tv makes everything look smaller, but this is ridiculous. Goes back to recent days when talking about the band trying to get closer to the audience, and you look at something like this and realize why. I don’t remember being at any stadium show where I felt as far away as it looks there.
It is crazy to look at the history of the show, that just a week before Bono’s father had died, and just a week later 9/11 would happen. I guess if I were to go all poetic, I would look back at this as a more innocent time, but the reality is that even though this was pre-9/11, I am looking at it post-9/11 and projecting my own thoughts and fears onto it. So when they hit the One/Walk On section, it doesn’t matter that they don’t know what’s going to happen, what matters is that I always connect those songs at that time with the attack, and with scrolling names on the wall. I don’t think I’ll ever get past that.
Sunday Bloody Sunday has a particular power, Bono making a speech saying that “we’re not going back there” amid the sea change in Irish attitudes toward the conflict. Saying “compromise is not a dirty word,” something he has been saying on the current tour. Listing names of the dead at Omagh, perhaps the most powerful moment, not the list of names that you see after 9/11 but their own power in their own country.
It feels like a local show, but then it doesn’t. There are parts - mentions of Ireland’s soccer team, which qualified for the World Cup that afternoon - where they’re talking to the crowd like old friends, but then there are parts where it seems more global. I guess that’s understandable, after all they’re bringing the show they’ve played around the world to town. We see that today, with them back in Dublin, and they have some references to local places and events, but overall it’s the same show as they played everywhere else. I suppose that’s a good thing, I would feel like I’m missing out if they played different things to their local fans than the rest of us.
My rating for U2 Go Home: 10 /10