U2 – Kings Of Croker (Godfather Records GR443/444)

Kings Of Croker (Godfather Records GR443/444)

Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland – July 25th, 2009

Disc 1 (70:48):  Intro:  Kingdom, Breathe, No Line On The Horizon, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Beautiful Day / Here Comes the Sun, Mysterious Ways / Mothers Of The Disappeared, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For / Stand By Me, Angel of Harlem / Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, In A Little While, Unknown Caller, The Unforgettable Fire, City of Blinding Lights / Rain, Vertigo / Thunderstruck

Disc 2 (79:34):  I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (remix) / Reverend Black Grape, Sunday Bloody Sunday / Rock The Casbah, Pride, MLK, Walk On / You’ll Never Walk Alone, Desmond Tutu speech, Where the Streets Have No Name, One, Ultraviolet, With or Without You, Moment of Surrender.  Bonus tracks, Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland – July 24th, 2009:  Here Comes The Sun / Beautiful Day / Blackbird, Desire, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, 40 / Bad / Fool To Cry

U2 played Croke Park in Dublin, the largest football arena in Ireland and the third biggest in Europe, for three sold out shows on July 24th, 25th, and 27th.  Kings Of Croker contains an excellent audience recording of the middle of the three shows complete with bonus tracks from the first Croke show.  Godfather use an excellent recording with minimal audience interference and which captures the dynamics of the event.

The context and connotation of the concert is best expressed in a lengthy review of this show written by Mark Reed for The Final Word, “A Sort Of Homecoming.” 

“If you’re a U2 fan, seeing U2 in Dublin is THE pilgrimage.  It’s the act, the ultimate expression, I suppose to some, of a kinship with the irish Gazillionaires.

“So what is the appeal of seeing U2 in their hometown? I suppose it must be that, even for a band as popular and enormous as they are, that firstly everywhere in the world is home, and nowhere is home. If you belong everywhere, there’s nowhere that can be alien to you, and with nowhere alien, there’s also nowhere home.

“But also, for a band that means so much, the question is, why do they mean so much? It could be that in the music itself, many of us feel a sense of home, a sort of homecoming, a community and belonging – even if only on a subconscious, primal, emotional level – that the idea of a band that brings home to you, even they must have a home, and then, seeing them perform at home would be perhaps the most sacred of belonging.

“It could be that, to go to Dublin one may understand perhaps even a little bit, better, or feel closer to the music in some way. It could be that seeing U2 in their hometown is to see U2 in their essence, at their most powerful.  But more than that, even if for nothing else, I have experienced the sacrament.  And to be honest, I don’t understand why I did it, but I felt that I should at some point whilst there was still the chance…

“And maybe I expected too much. Because U2 are performing well, tighter certainly than the opening night in Spain. And The songs sound fiercer, better, stronger, than they did that night. But U2 have hit a groove, and are no longer dancing out of the grooves with fear and novelty. Bono has his moves worked out, the angles, the second-hand, instinctive stagecraft – hand there, kneel here, point the microphone to the crowd – so much so that perhaps he is on auto-pilot, and in no bad way, has reached the instinctual zone of reaction and action that a footballer occupies his whole life, where there is no space or time to think, just to be.”

And after summarizing the set concludes:  “And there we have it. For the first time in a long time, the 360 Tour is U2 at the heart of the music : not serving a concept, or an agenda, or an underlying theme, not trying to save the world (the speeches are mercifully short), nor trying to tell us War Is Bad, but presenting a bridge between us, and joining people together. We are, as ever, “One”.

“In the end, Dublin welcome their exiles. And it seemed that were not actually that many Dubliners there, for many were on a pilgrimage, and many were as we often are, feeling alien within our own world: in one way, we were all part of the same nation for an evening, and that, perhaps is what we were looking for.”

Like other shows on the first leg, the show starts off with four new songs.  “Get On Your Boots,” which has been criticized by many as sounding too un-U2-like is an early highlight in the set.  Its David Bowie-sounding chorus resonates with the audience and whips them into a frenzy.  “Beautiful Day” is another highlight when Bono sings a few lines of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” at the end, leading the massive audience in a sing along.

“Mysterious Ways” is dedicated to Sinead O’Connor.  Bono dances with a girl dressed in a Chilean flag and she whispers something in his ear and Bono responds by singing a bit of “Mothers Of The Disappeared” for the first time ever in Europe.  In fact, there are several references to classic rock numbers scattered in the set including The Beatles’ “Rain” in “City Of Blinding Lights” and The Clash’s “Rock The Casbah” in “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” 

Godfather include four bonus tracks from the first Dublin show on July 24th.  This is a similarly very good audience tape with a bit more audience noise than the July 25th tape.  This includes the “Here Comes The Sun,” “Beautiful Day,” and the “Blackbird” reference and the excellent encore of “40,” “Bad” and The Rolling Stones’ “Fool To Cry.”  Kings Of Croker is packaged in the trifold gatefold sleeve and is title worth having. 

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