U2, National Stadium, Dublin

Record Mirror by Bill Graham (1980-03-08)

PLAYING THE major venue in your home town when you’ve yet to sign internationally could be presumed a recklessly self-confident venture. Furthermore U2 are playing in a city whose less informed fans have notoriously depended on the seal of approval from UK media like Top Of The Pops. It could have been a disaster, it wasn’t.

A thousand arrived and were persuaded of U2’s calibre that the band are no longer just club contenders. U2 entered the hall and made it their own.

I could be scrupulous in my criticism. The sound was over bassy, Bon’s gestures sometimes were dissipated in the less compressed setting and the road crew’s audience treatment was erratically inexperienced, though hardly dangerous. But then I’ve seen U2 at least 40 times; I’m bound to be demanding.

What’s indisputable is that U2 are the leading edge of a second generation of Irish rock that hasn’t yet cross the sea to the UK. They are a unique, yet uncontrived amalgam of ancient and modern. Adam Clayton’s bass lines may be suitably off-centre, but are traditional, if fashionably disgraced, notions of lead guitar.

For purely musical map-reading purposes — I am not so foolish as to yet make comparisons of stature — think of the Jam merged with Frith and Gabriel and you’re in the vicinity. Then U2 are so much their own band as to defy description in so sparse a report.

So U2 saw the stuka dive to a set that includes what could be a self-descriptive encore, ‘The Electric Company’ and their Irish singles ‘Out of Control’ and ‘Another Day’. Their’s is a music of boundless outstretching and even foolhardy exhilaration. It is not for premature cynics. When they re-enter Britain, it will be instructive to find how many romantics remain.

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