McGonagles, Dublin, Ireland

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Early advertisements in Hot Press for the upcoming week at McGonagles list U2 opening for the British band Advertising on July 23 and 24. The day of both concerts, add in the local newspapers list another opening band instead of U2, listing only The Addix and Advertising as playing the shows. (The Addix, aka The Drug Addix featured Kristy MacColl on backing vocals, MacColl would later sequence The Joshua Tree album.)

Although U2 didn’t get mentioned in the newspaper advertisements, they did play the shows. In his book U2 The Early Days: Another Time, Another Place, Bill Graham remembers, “It was also the site of U2’s first breakthrough, supporting Advertising. A second-line EMI power-pop band, Advertising were ideal rivals for U2 to test their progress against. Despite the Rats’ and Lizzy’s commercial success, Dublin bands still felt inferior to London visitors. U2 didn’t. They didn’t blow Advertising away, but they easily and confidently matched them. Certainly, I recall it as a night when I first believed U2 might just be specially gifted.”

Tot Taylor of Advertising remembered the shows as well. The band had visited Belfast ahead of the show in Dublin, and their car had been considered suspicious and was blown up by a bomb squad by Police. They arrived in Dublin with no instruments and had to ask U2 to borrow their instruments for the shows. The band graciously agreed to loan them their gear. In 1986 Bono came up to Tot at a show and introduced himself and reminded him of the night that he had borrowed the band’s gear.

Information about what U2 played during these shows is unknown.

U2 played McGonagles a number of times in the late 1970s. The venue, located at 21A South Anne Street, started hosting concerts in 1978 and continued to do so until 1992. Prior to that, it was known as The Crystal Ballroom. Bono’s parents, Iris and Bob would often go dancing at The Crystal Ballroom and Bono would later write about the venue in “The Crystal Ballroom”: “My mother died when she was at her father’s funeral. I was only 14. And in this song I am singing, “Everyone is here tonight, everyone but you.” And it’s me wanting to see my mother dance again in the Crystal Ballroom and for her to see what happened to her son.” On July 1, 2018, Bono remembered from stage that U2 had played McGonagles 29 times in their career. That night was their 30th performance at Madison Square Garden, making it U2’s most played venue, but up until that point, McGonagles appears to have been the most played.

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