John Noble reports on Saturday's 'epic night' in Dublin.
John Noble, who looks after the boards of Zootopia, has been bumping around the continent in his trusty camper van Dorty Oileen to many of the European shows. None has been as good as Dublin on Saturday. Below his review of the 'Gathering of the Tribes'.
Gathering of the tribes. Elders. Shamans. Warriors. Worriers. Mothers. Brothers. Crude boys. Rude girls. Lovers.. lovers of song… lovers IN song… warmed up by the songs they knew with Noel & his High Flying Birds, in front of Willie William's Wonderwall sci-fi backdrop.
'Enjoy the local band who are on next'
The gathering of the tribes on the historic battleground of Croke Park. Home. The boys (and girls) are back in town. Clans from across the world come together as One to sing our hearts out, to banish some ghosts and to set some other spirits free. In the name of love. What more? (In the name in love).
I began this pilgrimage last September, not knowing then it was gonna be a double-header journey - back then was the #U240 fan thing, which I blogged about in Zootopia, but never got around to completing… A friend nudged me the other day and asked, 'hey, big man, when are you gonna finish that story about the Dublin journey'? I think the definition of 'pilgrimage' is a kind of spiritual / physical journey combo. I have found myself clinging recently to a couple of books, (I am not a great reader of books, to my own discredit I know), one of them written by an Irish man, someone I met o' too briefly one time, the celebrated author, poet, and beautiful human John O'Donohue. On this leg of my pilgrimage, travelling with my trusty mare Dorty Oileen (canny auld little camper van!) I turned to a page in that book and came upon these words as the Emerald Isle came into view on the horizon from the ferry:
I would love to live Like a river flows, Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding.
My interpretation of that is to be open to what could be. What can be. More than that of course, but be ready... be ready. Live. Love. Be ready for what's next.
It's one thing following this U2 thing online, its a great thing, the community (which the singer mentioned at the show), It is a very real thing, sometimes dysfunctional, like a family can be. A wondrous, wide, open, sometimes crazy, often mysterious thing. When you come out to the live shows, then the community manifests itself in the flesh and you come face to face with people who might just change your life with the touch of a fingertip.
Sometimes the words come quickly, sometimes the words take longer to pen... years, decades. 3 of them even.. Time is not linear. This is U2. Dublin. The Joshua Tree. From sapling to maturity.
The show had best sound I have been to this tour, perhaps the one-end open nature of Croke Park helped with that, less echo than normal stadiums to deal with, Adam's chest popping bass in WOWY and exquisite riffs in Red Hill Mining Town pulsing through. Edge's chops and bell-ringing guitar chimes and beautiful deft springy piano work throughout the show came across with such clarity.
The grand theatre of Exit hit home last night, thrilling is an often overused word. This is a thriller. Shadowman is a beast.
'How amazing was that?' said the singer as he paused at the end of the show to take it all in, to gaze at the beauty made in front of his eyes. As Larry had done at the beginning of the show, appearing on the b stage, a wee pause, a gaze around, a slap of his thighs. The Larry Haka, before walking, marching to his position on the JT mini stage, then, after again a deliberate micro-moment of composure, he belted into the Sunday Bloody Sunday drum break. Knocking at the gates of Heaven itself. Thunderous. Splendorous. Glorious. War drums, of peace. Can you hear us coming, Lord?
'Oh my god!' a fan said on my left as this show drew to a close. As if Bono had heard him, the singer echoed the same words back in a heartbeat. 'Oh my God.'
I asked some fellow pilgrims who I have met along this road to 'Home' (aka Larry's t-shirt), Dublin, to sum up their thoughts & feelings :
Dave from the English clan : 'Finally 36 years after my first U2 gig I made it to the Dublin show. The place was rammed and it was as though each member of the audience was attached to the next. From the 3 stands to those on the pitch - jumping, clapping, singing in unison. Bono sang "It's a beautiful day". It was a beautiful night'.
Ross from the American clan : 'On fire. Terrific show. Crowd and band totally committed.'
AJ from the Canadian clan : 'Highlight for the show for me was Running to Stand Still. In 2005 I found out they were playing it and made my first trip to Dublin to see it. Last night was special though. Bono is incredible at focusing on the crowd and making you think he's looking just at you. Last night standing there listening to my favourite u2 song, in Dublin, Bono sent his gaze my way and I got to look right into his eyes while I got lost in the song'.
Scott from the Scottish clan (and part of the @tildecember U2-inspired band who are playing shows at the packed fan-held city centre U2-themed parties this tour) : 'Bono said before Bad that to play Croke Park is a very big deal indeed… (tonight included) …an invocation to look again for America. A fly-by in green and gold that made us catch our breath and look up in every sense. A celebration of the women of the U2 community and of world history. We had to head back just before One to be sure we made our (own) show at midnight. But then on our walk… people were singing in the streets...it made us stop our tracks. 'Hear us coming Lord.' There was a group of Spanish fans gathered in a circle, probably wanted tickets but couldn't get them. Bitter? Cynical? No. Singing their hearts out. One love. We get to carry each other. Our singer Ails and I wept. We will never forget it'.
'Let it go'... The mantra of bad. I do try… I can't. I am lost in it. I exist in it. I can dream it all up in it. So can you. My dreams, your dreams… hey, one day they might meet and get wed. Lets book U2 as the wedding band and invite the tribe.
Dublin #U2TheJoshuaTree2017 was a one-off. A celebration. Birthdays, anniversaries, jet plane flyovers, communal singing, dancing, partying. We were all left wanting more. Thats the sign of an exceptional evening. One I also, will never forget.'