Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Saturday, 25 June 2005 11:40 UK

U2 thrill at 'homecoming' gig

By Shane Harrison
BBC NI Dublin Correspondent

It may have been raining but that didn't dampen the spirits of the 80,000 people in Croke Park on Friday night for the first of U2's three performances in their home city.

The band, often described as the best in the world, opened and closed their show with Vertigo.

Bono (right) and The Edge
U2 are taking Dublin by storm during the three nights of concerts

That was apt as the shows are part of the band's Vertigo tour, which kicked off in San Diego in the US earlier this year, and which will see U2 play a punishing 114 shows around the world.

The band also thrilled the Dublin audience with several songs from their last two albums as well as some of the old favourites.

These included Sunday Bloody Sunday, I will follow, Pride, With or Without You and Where the Streets Have No Name.

Singer Bono in the course of the two and a half hour show also managed to play the drums, the guitar and the tambourine.

"This is a beautiful, beautiful night," he told the fans from all over the world.

"It doesn't get any better than this - this band, this town, this stadium."

The show started off in daylight but became much more theatrical with lightshows and giant video screens when darkness fell.

With so many people bouncing up and down to the rhythm it will be interesting to see what state the Croke Park pitch is in over the next few days.

Bono, a campaigner for the third world and a human rights activist, dedicated a song to the Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung Sun Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest and who was given the freedom of Dublin on the same day as U2.

Fans queued for hours to get the best spot at the gig
Fans queued for hours to get the best spot at the gig

To cheers he told the crowd that he would be on the streets protesting next month about the plight of the poor in Africa.

"Six thousand people die every day because of a mosquito bite. We can put a stop to that," he said, before launching into One.

Bono had little to say about issues at home.

He merely mentioned that the last time the band played Croke Park it was for the Special Olympics.

He also said it was good to see people concentrating on the future rather than the past.

After the performance, the wet but happy fans from Ireland and abroad, who had come to see the sort of homecoming, agreed it had been a fantastic night with a great performance.

Some even said they'd try to get back for the Saturday and Monday night performances.

Lucky them, if they can get a ticket.

SEE ALSO
U2 mania for homecoming gigs
24 Jun 05 |  Northern Ireland

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