The U2 tribute gig to celebrate their 40th anniversary at Church Bar was such an overwhelming success that the man behind the event, Stephen Browne, is now planning to turn it into a yearly event…
To celebrate U2’s momentous milestone of 40 years together as officially the greatest band on the planet, a special tribute gig by cover band U2 Baby was held in a packed to capacity Church Bar on Jervis Street. The crowd knew all the lyrics and it sometimes felt like a karaoke event.But it was more than that too!
The man behind the event is music fan Stephen Browne – who runs a unique professional photography service called Party Snaps which takes photos at events. A gallery of his photos from the event can be seen here. He is also a music promoter and is now the new manager of the Brilliant Trees since the band reunited after two decades out of the limelight. Stephen told Hot Press that he was so overwhelmed by the success of the U2 gig that he is now planning to make it an annual event.
“I came up with the idea #WelcomeToTheNorthside in November 2015 when U2 took up residency in the 3 Arena. I set up a pop-up U2 Bar / U2 Gallery and had live tribute acts at the Church on Jervis Street, and on some nights we had to turn away hundreds of U2 fans as we were at capacity before and shortly after the U2 gigs finished," Stephen told Hot Press.
“There was great feedback from the fans who made The Church their base on their “pilgrimage” to Ireland. They had indeed received a great #WelcomeToTheNorthside of Dublin and they were all keen to return.
"This is mainly why I organised the events for the September U2 40 Celebrations.
Again, after #U240 events received great feedback from the fans – and also close friends of the band who dropped by to give the ‘Cedarwood Road Sign of approval’ – I decided this will be a yearly event. I plan to grow this to a U2 festival to celebrate the greatest band in the world and more importantly to show a band called U2, formerly The Hype, who are proud of being from The Northside of Dublin that The Northside of Dublin is proud of them too.”
Fans literally came from over all over the world to the tribute gig to commemorate the day Larry Mullen pinned the legendary note seeking to form a band, on the notice board in Mount Temple Comprehensive.
U2 fans jetted in from the around the globe and some even dressed up on the night to participate in what was a fun tribute gig. There were fans in attendance from Holland, Sweden, Denmark, England, Germany, France and Colorado and Seattle in the USA. Even the young Canadian woman, Trish Weedon who famously joined Bono on stage in the post-terrorist attack concert in Paris, and appears on the U2 ‘Innocence + Experience: Live in Paris’ DVD, was there on the night. Trish, who was one of the unexpected stars of the Paris gig, when Bono pulled her up onstage to dance along to Mysterious Ways, was only there because she won tickets to the concert via U2’s fan club.
A couple of famous Dublin Northsiders also made it to The Church – including Bono’s mate Guggi, ex-member of the legendary Virgin Prunes and a fantastic artist in his own right these days, and Ivan McCormick – brother of ex-Hot Press writer Neil – who famously joined the band for the first few rehearsals in Larry Mullen’s kitchen.
Speaking after the gig, Guggi – seen below with Trish, who dressed up as “Mrs Macphisto” for the occasion – quipped: “I thought U2Baby were amazing. I think I prefer them to U2 – and it was much easier to get in!”
Ivan McCormick, clearly in a nostalgic frame of mind spoke on the night with fans about his experiences of those early days. “40 years ago yesterday I joined my first band, they've done OK,” he joked, adding: “I went over to Dublin to celebrate their birthday in style.”
Some of the crowd, including Ivan himself, said everybody literally had to do a double-take when they first laid eyes on the band’s Bono doppelganger, Richard Peace. “And I had to do a double-take when I saw these guys take to the stage in a crowded, hot and sweaty bar... With a few pints of Guinness blurring the edges - no pun intended – I was transported back to '78 and the Dandelion Market gigs,” Ivan added.
The band’s singer told Hot Press it was an absolute honour for U2Baby to play the show.
“It had long been our dream to do a gig in the birthplace of U2. The trip was long but so worth it due to the friendly venue and the amazing U2 fans that travelled from all over the world to celebrate. Hearing them singing every word and really engaging in the experience touched us deeply,” Richard said. “We also got to meet Guggi who was really complimentary about U2Baby and the look of the band. What a blast! We are looking forward to returning to Dublin soon.”
One U2 die-hard fan who flew from Canada, Sherry C. Green proffered: “ I flew in from Vancouver, Canada. Left Thursday 6:30 am – 17 hours of travel time, crossed eight hours of time zones and arrived in Dublin, 7 am. 48 hours of great music in The Church and The Grand Social. December was lovely; The Joshua Tree pretty great too; but the highlight for me was U2 Baby - not just a great band, but personal friends. Loved surprising them!
“Also loved getting a chance to see / hear Ivan McCormick's tales of early days. What a styling guy! LOL. Left 6:30 am Sunday morning. Total sleep for three nights: 6-8 hours. It was my first trip to Ireland, but I've already booked another trip in December for a week - I'll be a real tourist then and see the sights properly and hopefully sleep some too!”
Trish Weedon says she’s still pinching herself after being on stage with Bono – not once but twice recently: in Paris and Dublin.
"For me, it was the best day of my life. He came right over, pointed right to me and said: ‘Come on up!’ This was my second time onstage (with the band) — so I was a bit more chill with it. I just had fun with it,” she says.
“I waited in line all day. I kinda knew where Bono pulled people up, so I ended up there and all day, people were saying: ‘You have this look about you, Bono’s going to choose you’. I was like: ‘No, no, don’t say that, then I’ll be very disappointed (if it doesn’t happen)’. This is something I’ve wanted since I was 17 when I first saw it happen at a U2 concert. I thought: ‘I want to be that girl someday!’”
One Dutch fan revealed that the tribute band’s bass player’s actual instrument is a signature bass used by Adam Clayton. Ingrid Haan said: “I’d been to Dublin a few times now, mostly for U2 related stuff. My friend had never been there, so we did a lot of touristy things but also combined it with seeing some U2 landmarks I hadn't even seen myself yet.
“It was a great party in the Church, what an amazing venue! The band was very good, and also very kind people. The bassist let my friend and I – both bass players – hold his Adam Clayton signature Warwick, which was epic. They played very well on both nights, and the atmosphere was almost like a real U2 show. They obviously put a lot of work into their looks as well as their sounds. Great, great experience!
One attendee, Paul Collyer from Derbyshire – singer with U2UK, and pictured below with Trish – said on his Facebook page: “I and others I spoke to hope that this can be an annual event.”
Here’s looking forward to next year…
Check out the full gallery from the evening right here.
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