- 09 Sep 15
Olaf Tyaransen looks forward to the appearance of U2 at 3Arena in Dublin and SSE Arena in Belfast.
After much speculation, Irish U2 fans have been breathing a collective sigh of relief this morning, at the news that the band’s critically acclaimed iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour is coming to the Belfast SSE on November 18 and 19 and then moving down to Dublin’s 3Arena for November 23, 24, 27 and 28 shows.
The band's Irish shows are always something special, for obvious reasons. However, given the strongly autobiographical nature of the material on their latest studio album, Songs of Innocence, and its roots in 1970s Dublin, these ones – most especially the Three Arena dates – will likely be particularly charged.
While they’ve scaled down the size of the venues following their last hi-tech, record-breaking stadium tour, 360, the superstar quartet and their loyal crew have continued to think big. This writer saw their opening night of the tour in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena – a 20,000 capacity venue – last May. Throughout the gig, their artistic director Gavin Friday was furiously scribbling notes. Afterwards he explained that it “usually takes at least six shows before the Baby is fully Achtung!” That, despite the fact that what I had just witnessed was a thoroughly brilliant show.
Now that they’ve completed the first North American leg of iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE, almost 40 dates played, the visually stunning show will be operating as a very well-oiled machine. Achtung babies!
Although they’ve had to reimagine the set to suit 3Arena, and indeed The SSE Arena in Belfast, make no mistake: the staging is – and will be – absolutely extraordinary.
The original configuration for the show features a large rectangular main stage at one end of the venue and a smaller round one at the other, linked by a wide runway that functions as a third stage. Overhead, a vast oblong box serves as a screen and holds the lighting and sound rigs, but also contains a fourth stage. At various well-choreographed points, Bono physically appears in the middle of the screen. How they will make that work in a different setting remains to be seen, but The Edge has praised the ingenuity of the response which the band’s technical and production crew – who have a track record of delivering the goods in a spectacular manner – have come up with.
One song in particular will definitely prove a talking point. The edgy ‘Raised By Wolves’ is about the Dublin bombings of May 17, 1974, that killed 33 people: “Face down on a broken street/ There’s a man in the corner in a pool of misery/ I’m in a white van as a red sea covers the ground/ Metal crash I can’t tell what it is/ But I take a look and now I’m sorry I did/ 5:30 on a Friday night 33 good people cut down.” It is hard to imagine U2 not playing what is a visceral statement about one of the worst atrocities of the era that we call The Troubles, in the town in which it took place...
The onscreen visuals during this song reflect the sheer awfulness of that blood-soaked tragedy, and also raise the politically contentious point that it’s a crime that has never been properly investigated. In Vancouver it gave the audience pause for thought, but in Dublin its impact will be many, many times more powerful.
It might even spark a public outcry for a proper investigation of what happened on that fateful, deeply tragic day over 40 years ago.