On September 14th, I sat at my computer nervously eying the clock as my blood pressure steadily increased. I was awaiting the exact moment for tickets to U2’s iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour 2015 at 3 Arena in Dublin to go on sale. Within 30 minutes, the entire show (4 nights in Dublin) had sold out, and I was fortunate enough to have purchased a student ticket. Now I must admit, I’m not the biggest U2 fan, but I wanted to go for the cultural experience. This was the band’s first time in Dublin since 2009.
In order to expand my U2 knowledge, I went to the Little Museum of Dublin to learn more about the band. There is an entire exhibit dedicated to these hometown heroes, Bono, the Edge, Larry, and Adam, that grew up in Dublin. The band has been iconic, selling millions of albums and topping the charts on multiple occasions. What sets them apart, though, is how they have maintained their morals and beliefs amidst the stardom. They have even used their celebrity status to champion important causes (i.e. Bono’s ONE campaign which has the mission of ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases.
Then came the night of the show, Tuesday, November 24th. I was excited but slightly nervous that I would not know all the words! My friend Stephen and I got student tickets to the front standing room section. As we looked around, we certainly comprised the younger section of the crowd. However, as the show began, this didn’t matter at all; the crowd warmly welcomed their own native Dubs (even the Irish president was in attendance!). It was more than a show, though. It was a message to people of all ages, coming at just the right time as our world is being challenged with difficult moral dilemmas regarding topics such as refugees and counterterrorism efforts.
Bono controlled the microphone for the entire night, but he did not simply sing. He offered a collection of thoughts and challenges, morphing the concert into not simply a musical experience but a platform for contemplation and growth.
During “Bloody Sunday,” a song written about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, there was an emotional visual display that was also quite politicized, leading me to wonder if the performance changed depending upon which city the tour was stopped in. Images of street graffiti flashed in the background with captions such as “Prepared for peace, ready for war,” “No surrender,” “History is written by the victor,” “Remember the victims,” and “Some gave some, some gave all.” Upon concluding the song, Bono stated “We must never forget that we don’t have to become a monster to defeat a monster” then later in the show flashed scenes of the lives lost to Irish car bombs, the Berlin Wall, and live footage of Syria.
Prior to beginning “In the Name of Love,” (Yes, I was typing influential quotes into my phone during a concert!) Bono stated, “We sing for the peacemakers. We sing for all those who have lost hope. We sing for Syria, for Lebannon, and for Iraq. Most importantly, we all need to live together with love and respect.” The dedication gave the concert a religious feel to me, as if powered by something greater than just one band. The song concluded with “#refugeeswelcome” written on all of the screens. Bono then said, “As humans, we are all time travelers into the future, but that doesn’t mean we are ready to go today.” I interpreted this as a subtle and eloquent plea for cessation of violence worldwide.
In remembrance of the victims of the Paris attached, Bono proclaimed, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” then sang a song in French.
As the show ended, the crowd erupted in the same way that it had when U2 first took the stage. This band means so much to the people of Dublin, and I was so fortunate to have experienced the event in person. As I departed the show, Stephen and I could not stop talking about all we had seen and heard. This evidenced the band’s impact. By planting a seed of contemplation in the hearts and minds of all those present, U2 had successfully begun a ripple effect that has the potential to positively impact the world if we so choose to allow it to.