U2 Go Home is not, as it sounds, a command, but instead a description of U2's triumphant trip back to their hometown of Dublin to perform two gigs at the massive venue of Slane Castle. At the second gig, over 80,000 fans, already rapturous after watching the Irish football team beat Holland in a World Cup 2002 qualifier on the big screens, were up for the biggest Irish musical event of the new millenium.
Sat amongst the apparently endless sea of fans, the stage itself seemed small and even intimate, an impression confirmed by the evident closeness of the band musically as well as physically. Four large screens hanging above the stage showed close-ups of each band member, and there was a runway down into and around a portion of the crowd, enabling Bono particularly to perform from within the crowd. The castle itself, in a myriad of different colours through the evening, was a stunning backdrop.
And that was before the music even started. Opening with Elevation, the crowd goes wild, and seeing 80,000 people all jumping is truly a sight to behold. This is quickly followed by Beautiful Day, itself becoming something of a football anthem, where Bono makes his first foray down onto the catwalk. He is joined by the Edge in Until The End Of The World, and Bono clasps the hands thrust up at him from the crowd.
New Year's Day offers a change of pace, with the Edge on piano, and the famous tinted glasses come off. Bono, usually against displays of nationalism, drapes himself in the Irish flag to commemorate the Irish football team's achievement.
The band are clearly having a whale of a time, with even Adam Clayton, normally a paragon of the "bassist must gaze impassively across the audience" school, cracking a broad grin from time to time. Bono introduces each of them during Out Of Control - their first ever single (and who would believe that was 25 years ago?) - as if the entire western world did not know exactly who these four Irish rockers were. He then thanked each of their four families for the "lend of £500" all those years ago which enabled them to travel to London to get their first demo recorded. The stuff of history.
At over one and a half hours, the band really know how to give their fans their money's worth. The Joshua Tree era classics of With Or Without You, Bullet the Blue Sky and Where The Streets Have No Name intermingle with the recent Stuck In A Moment, Beautiful Day and Walk On. Fans who adored Rattle and Hum will also love the renditions of Desire and Angel of Harlem, as well as Sunday Bloody Sunday.
Never a band to miss an opportunity to speak out for peace, the backdrop to Bullet The Blue Sky tellingly informs the crowd: "The 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council: UK, USA, China, France, Russia... The 5 biggest arms dealers in the world: UK, USA, China, France, Russia". And at the end of Sunday Bloody Sunday Bono reads out the names of those killed in the Omagh bombing, after singing "no more, no more".
Throughout, the impressive sound, light and camerawork enable the music to shine without distraction. The band are tight as only a band who have been together for years and have developed a musical telepathy can be. And, despite how many times they must have played some of these songs, it feels like each song is a new creation, that the band are bringing something fresh. For Desire, for instance, all four band members come down onto the runway, with Larry Mullen Junior playing on a single drum, the Edge and Clayton on guitar and bass, and Bono giving it some on the vocals and harmonica.
With songs like these in their armoury, together with the awesome vocal and musical talents of the band, and their refreshing down to earth attitude, this concert was always going to be good. As this DVD shows, it was truly great.