U2’s International Brigade Jet in for World Tour’s ‘Main Event’

Irish Times (2009-07-24)

If you are not a U2 fan this weekend, it might be advisable to leave the country.

On the other hand, for thousands of fans from all over the world, there is only one place they want to be. U2’s homecoming concerts have become a sort of a rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimage for hardened fans of the band.

Unofficial U2 HQ for the weekend will be Murray’s Bar at the top of O’Connell Street, and a short walk from the concerts in Croke Park. If three concerts were not enough, a U2 tribute band Us2 will be playing six gigs there over the weekend.

The event is being organised by the Electric Co, the only U2 fan club in Ireland, and French fan Christophe Pierrelee who is coming for the concerts with his wife Kristelle. Mr. Pierrelee (40) said Murray’s will be a place for fans to meet for a few beers, to “warm up or cool down,” and some had contacted him from as far away as New Zealand saying they would be attending.

Electric Co co-founder Jim Hickey said they had fielded 3,000 calls from U2 fans abroad who will be coming to the concert. He estimates there will be between 10,000 and 12,000 foreign fans who will be going each night.

“For a lot of them it is about meeting people, having the craic and U2 is part of that,” he said. “A lot of people who aren’t Irish want to see them playing at home. Croke Park is magnificent, but I prefer to see them in Madison Square Garden.”

Julie Howe (32) from Australia came on a flight which took 25 hours from her home in Brisbane to London, and then on to Dublin.

“I don’t think I’ve come the furthest,” she said.

She was due to meet up last night with two dozen other U2 fans from all over the world who have their love of the band in common.

“For me now it is all about the people that I’ve met. I’ve made life-long friends through U2 and this is a chance to catch up with them every four years or so. It is a big reunion for people all over the world.”

Aaron Sams (36), from Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada, arrived in Dublin yesterday morning from New York.

“The flight was packed with U2 fans. There was a woman on stand-by for two days just looking to get to Dublin for the concerts.”

He has seen U2 31 times, “32 if you include the rehearsal in Barcelona,” including the last series of concerts the band played in Croke Park on the Vertigo tour.

“If it is anything like the 2005 experience it will be worth it,” he said.

The excitement among fans and the band is mutual. On U2’s official website, the Edge said the only way to describe the atmosphere at homecoming concerts is “metaphysical peaks.”

“If you ask any U2 fan anywhere in the world, the place they want to see the band is always Dublin. A lot of times when we do play Dublin there is a magic that happens that doesn’t occur anywhere else.”

Bono said the rehearsals for their Dublin concerts had been going well.

“We were rehearsing in Barcelona, Paris, Milan and Amsterdam,” he joked. “The main event will go even better.”

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