- 28 Oct 18
Lights Of Home: U2's eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour Finally Arrives In Ireland. Our Man In Belfast: Pat Carty
It’s a long way from May to November, as the old song nearly goes. Our European brothers and sisters, more of whom later, will already have been aware of this, but the show, the big show, is now a different eXPERIENCE from the one Hot Press witnessed on that opening night in Tulsa. With the finish line in sight, U2 have refitted the machine, stripped it back, gone away and dreamt it all up again. The original show was heavy with narrative, weaving the story line from the Songs of Innocence album into the declarations from Songs Of Experience. The Cedarwood Road section, the backbone of the original show, and the dazzling visuals that went with it, have been placed on a shelf, the message has changed. Theatrical flourishes remain, of course, for this is U2 we’re talking about after all, but, yet again, they’ve taken something that was great and made it even better.
The opening section is still familiar. Interference crawls up the giant screen, which divides the SSE arena, as Noel Gallagher’s ‘It’s A Beautiful World’ plays. The images slip from Rorschahian brain scans to the ruined remains of European cities in the wake of war, the music changes to the opening chords of ‘Zooropa’, with a line from ‘Love Is All We Have Left’ – “Nothing to stop this being the best day ever”, and that great speech from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator flashes across the screen “I’m sorry, I don’t want to be an emperor”. The pace quickens as Chaplin bemoans how humanity has lost its way but there is hope if we unite to fight for a decent world against the brutes that have risen to power as images of Trump, Putin and Jong-Un stain the screen only to be cleansed away by the triumphant image of Chaplin calling for unity in front of the flag of Europe. The bass thump of “The Blackout” takes over, the shadows of the band pressed against the screen like some nightmare combination of the Slender Man and, of all things, Superman’s phantom zone, but the message is becoming clear: “when the lights go out, don’t you ever doubt, the light that we can really be.” ‘Lights Of Home’, perhaps the best track from Songs of Experience, carries it on, “free yourself to be yourself” as Bono climbs a steep incline on the screen - the struggle to reach for the light is a worthwhile one.
But this is a rock n’ roll show. ‘I Will Follow’ has the stands shaking as the people of Belfast pound their feet for “a band from the northside of Dublin called The U2, formerly The Hype” and that nagging, immortal guitar riff. Each member’s brief solo turn during ‘Gloria’ - complete with snatches of Van and Patti - reminds anyone who needs reminding that this is one of the great live bands, who don’t require advanced technological theatrics in order to deliver. The screen starts to come back on for ‘Beautiful Day’ but it’s still just four men playing their hearts out, as the lights flash up on the ecstatic crowd, roaring every word. Bono thanks everyone for showing up and recalls Adam Clayton and a bottle of wine in the boot of a blue Lancia back in 1979, worrying the security services, when they first played in Belfast, supporting Squeeze.