Back in August 2011, some U2 fans came up with an idea: Having attended many U2 360 gigs around the world, including the final gig in Moncton, what about meeting up with some of the U2 fans they had met on their many U2 360 tour travels. Some of these adventurers are documented on this website, most of which is in English as well as Dutch.
Ria Monster lives near Rotterdam in The Netherlands and was the main organiser of the U2 Fan Reunion, she has been a fan of the band ever since she heard New Years Day, and to date has attended 58 U2 gigs. She told me, “After the Moncton show we were talking about missing the concerts but also missing the great people we met along the way. Laraine Furlong suggested to have a reunion. It started small but just people we knew but then I created the Facebook page and the rest is history. Dirk Mommertz contacted a few tribute bands and made the arrangements with Rattle N Hum. I contacted The Long Stone pub. Being the moderator of the Facebook group people contacted me. I just put everything on FB and tried to get everyone excited.”
As Ria confirms, it all started with this facebook page, and developed from there.
Here is a report about recent events in Dublin last weekend:
The first event was a meet up in a Dublin pub – The Long Stone on Townsend Street last Friday night. There was a small, but avid crowd of U2 fans from all over Europe and beyond. I spoke to many of them and there were some very dedicated followers of the band. Many stories were exchanged and some of the German ladies had actually met with Bono in a Dalkey pub earlier that day and had the photographic evidence to prove it. Afterwards the group broke up and Joe (my U2 touring buddy)and myself ended up seeing a Rolling Stones tribute band at a late gig in Buskers pub on Fleet Street along with U2 fan, and fellow superfan of Peter Gabriel – Richard Hayter.
On Saturday morning, after meeting with fellow U2 360 tour veterans – Steve and Paul,(who flew in that morning from the UK)we assembled outside Stephens Green Shopping Centre to meet with Dave Griffith for his U2 Dublin Walking Tour. As the tour numbers were approximately 30 people, Dave enlisted the services of his friend Ruari O’Mahony who did a fine job of bringing up the rear and minding the straglers and wanderers. This can be difficult as the tour progressed down some of the busiest streets of Dublin. As part of the tour, Dave gave us all a 149 page document entitled “Slide-Down The Surface Of … Dublin: The U2 Experience – The History and Tour Of U2’s Dublin” which documents in minute detail all the U2 and semi related spots in the whole Dublin area. This mammoth document is currently nearing completion and gives the more discerning U2 fan detailed directions (and GPS co-ordinates) to every U2 spot imaginable. He also told us he is working on an all Ireland document to cover Cork, Limerick, Belfast etc. I can vouch for this as I assisted with his recent trip to Cork to document the various Cork U2 spots.
Dave has been doing these walking tours for over five years now and has handled many international fans. This particular group were a lot more informed than the average group that Dave brings on his tours, but all of those who attended learned at least a few things we did not know about U2 and their hometown. The tour covered several miles of U2 spots and even a little bit of Irish history was covered. Dave encouraged questions from those who were there, and had several stories of his own encounters with the members of U2. The tour made it’s way through Grafton street, passed several U2 spots including STS studios, the Temple Bar Arch, the Hapenny bridge, and the “Bonavox” hearing aid shop which amazingly still exists, although it now has a newly black painted shop frontage. We continued back across the Liffey to the Windmill Lane studios where Ria suggested we all sign the graffiti wall.
Then we continued the tour to the offices of Principle Management and then to HQ studios on Hanover Quay where the tour finished. I noticed while we at HQ, that those large white flower boxes opposite the studio have been removed. They had a message of discontent from a U2 fan who was not happy about the price of the Uber Deluxe Boxset edition of Achtung Baby. No activity inside or outside the studio was evident. However minutes after the tour broke up, a friend of mine had stayed on a bit longer and he spotted Dallas exiting the studios looking extremely tired. Hopefully this might be an indication that something is happening on the next album.
Dave mentioned that all were welcome to join him at the Baggot Inn pub for some food and some drinks, however as the tour was a little tiring, most headed back to get ready for the main event of the evening. Of course in the interest of U2 research I had to back to the Baggot for some welcome refreshment along with some others. Before we entered the Baggot Inn, Dave took us down the side of the building and showed where the original venue stood. In fact, Dave had actually played in a band there him self many years ago. Dave has a Facebook page of U2 Spots in Ireland , which has some photos of the walking tour, along with other photos taken during his exhaustive research of U2 spots all over Ireland.
It’s a nice venue, which slopes down to the stage, so a good view from everywhere. They also have several tables in the stepped incline, down towards the stage. This was perfect for those too tired to stand, after a long walk around Dublin. Unfortunately all tables were gone by the time we got in. The band gave a very impressive 29 track set, Ruari snapped this at the back of the venue with some cue notes attached.
They covered every U2 album with the exception of Zooropa. Notably – only one track from the most recent album was included. Seven tracks from Achtung Baby were performed including Acrobat, the audio is a little off in this video, but how many times has anyone seen this played live ? It was a real treat to see it being performed.
Acrobat was one of the tracks requested by myself and others on the Rattle & Hum Facebook page. In fairness to the band ,they took many of the suggested requests onboard. Other interesting inclusions were Hawkmoon 269, Promenade, and A Sort Of Homecoming. They wrapped up the set with “40”. Prior to the gig, some others and myself had a drink in the pub next door to the venue. While we were enjoying a creamy pint of Guinness, a gentleman came into the pub, all our heads turned when we saw him. It was almost like Bono’s identical twin had just walked in. He turned out to be an Italian called Angelino Lanzino and he came dressed with items from the Edun collection. By the looks of his facebook page, it looks like he has met the real Bono. There is a picture of Angelino (aka Bono) and Dave Griffith here:
Towards the end of their set, Rattle & Hum invited Angelino onstage to join the band for With Or Without You – seeing two Bono’s onstage singing With Or Without You was fairly unusual! Angelino may look like Bono, but does not really sound like him, still, it was an entertaining part of the evening. I managed to get photographed with him (and uploaded)and got one message back which read “So Bono, has finally met his idol !”. The band performed well, helped by the fact that the majority of the crowd knew most of the songs, with many of them knowing them all. The lead singer had even mastered the various Bono facial grimaces. I’ve seen many U2 Tribute bands over the years, and these guys were were very good – perhaps a little vocally weak on singing some of the tracks, but very good overall. What really improved the show was not only the excellent playing but also the amount of imagery they had projecting on the back of stage screen. It was quite impressive, down to the flags during “Streets”.
The atmosphere at the gig was the best I have ever seen for a U2 tribute band, adding this to a band who gave it their all on the night, helped make it a very memorable evening.
On Sunday, some of the U2 Fan Reunion group attended a second tribute band performance at Buskers Bar on Fleet Street. Entertainment this time was provided by U2 Tribute band the Joshua Tree. Unfortunately I was not able to attend this performance as I was en route home back to the real capital of Ireland, Cork.
It is very likely that 2013 will bring a similar weekend in Dublin, the tribute band Rattle & Hum have already hinted at something even bigger for 2013. Bar a U2 tour in 2013, i will definitely be attending.
Thanks to Joe Langford for the video footage, Tomasz Juszczak – (Rattle & Hum Photographer) for the band shots and to Ruari O’Mahony & Dave Griffith for the other photos above. Thanks also to Sherry Lawrence of atu2.com for assistance with this piece & Ria Monster for answering my questions.
A final few words on the weekend events from Ria Monster:
D.M. :Any other thoughts as to how the weekend went in Dublin ?
R.M.: It was great fun to see people from lots of different countries with the same passion. Catching up with people that I hadn’t seen for a while and meeting new people. The gigs, walking tour and just hanging out with great people made it a memorable weekend. :-))”