U2 Belfast Ready for PopMart Spectacular; U2 Are Set to Rock Belfast Tonight with Their Extraordinary Popmart Show. Robin Greer Looks Back over 17 Years of Watching the Dublin Band Perform

By Greer, Robin | The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), August 26, 1997 | Go to article overview

U2 Belfast Ready for PopMart Spectacular; U2 Are Set to Rock Belfast Tonight with Their Extraordinary Popmart Show. Robin Greer Looks Back over 17 Years of Watching the Dublin Band Perform


Greer, Robin, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)


This evening's U2 concert at Botanic Gardens will be the largest ever rock concert to be staged in Northern Ireland.

The band's current Popmart concert show is the most sophisticated ever staged and their world tour is set to gross pounds 160 million.

Singer Bono says; ''I can't imagine how we could advance a live show beyond Popmart...I don't think we would be stupid enough to take this on again''.

It wasn't always that way. Like the Sex Pistols at the Screen on the Green, or The Beatles in the Cavern, the number of people who claim to have attend U2's 1980 breakthrough concert at the Snack Bar in Queen's University Student Union greatly exceeds the number of people the venue could have realistically held.

I was 15 at the time, and had never heard of U2. They were the unknown opening act on a bill that featured Squeeze and the then popular punk poet Patrick Fitzgerald stole the show.

Flushed with enthusiasms, I was crushed at the front of the stage and the four piece exploded on to the stage in a frenzied ball of youthful energy. Fresh-faced and hungry to be noticed, Bono bounced crazily from one side of the stage to the other, his party piece was to stick strips of gaffa tape across The Edge's mouth (critic's of Numb may still applaud this sentiment).

While Bono was the showman, the real musical innovations seem to be coming from the Edge. Unmistakably the music, was rooted in punk and new wave but the interpretation was like nothing heard before. Edge played with a dark driven passion, holding the guitar away from his body, reinventing the instrument with a style that was neither conventional rock rhythm or lead.

I next saw U2 at Maysfield Leisure Centre, a couple of albums, Boy and October, had been released by then, and the band were starting to sell their distinctive brand of pomp and circumstances.

Then came the glory days of the early to mid-eighties, with grandiose outdoor shows at Slane, Dublin's Croke Park and ironically in August, 1983, at Phoenix Park where they topped a bill that also included Simple Minds, Big Country and The Eurtyhmics.

With sell-outs at New York's Madison Square Garden behind them, and just a few weeks after a sell- out concert at Croke Park, U2 played the 1985 Live Aid fund-raiser at Wembley stadium.

The big stadium shows, the big statements, the big hair, had all been right for the time, but after Live Aid that started to change. …

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