U2 & Miami Showband in Belfast

A lot has changed since U2 last played Belfast, in 1997. Heck, a lot has happened since U2 last played a gig.

The Irish rock legends had just completed two nights of a four-night run in Paris last week when Islamic State terrorists struck the French capital. The band’s remaining shows were called off.

Last night, the band returned to live action in a city that has witnessed its own share of bloodshed over the years.

The SSE Arena must be amongst the smallest venues the supergroup has played in years. And they were determined to create an intimate atmosphere.

Bono entered from the back of the hall, striding along a walkway and holding his fist aloft triumphantly, before joining the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen on stage.

“We’re a band from the northside of Dublin called U2, formerly the Hype,” he announced.

The foursome were welcomed like heroes, and the feeling was mutual.

Opening track ‘The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)’ harked back to the days before U2 had ventured outside Dublin. But even then, they were tuned into the news coming from the North.

“What was happening up here made a big impact in our teenage years,” Bono said.

The first few numbers were played punk-style, four guys in a row, blasting it out. The jolting riffs of ‘Vertigo’ had the whole arena bouncing, while a massive ‘I Will Follow’ got everyone singing along. And ‘Iris (Hold Me Close)’ was a deeply personal tribute to Bono’s late mother.

But it wouldn’t be a U2 show without some grand spectacle, and the video screens were soon sparking into life.

‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ saw a procession of murals from both loyalist and republican areas, alternating with the slogan ‘Remember the victims’.

And despite the events of the past week, the band didn’t flinch from using explosive sound effects and a striking car bomb graphic to introduce ‘Raised by Wolves’.

Nor did they drop the controversial video footage they have been using during the song itself. A roll call of notorious Northern Ireland terrorist atrocities played out on screen, from the Miami Showband Massacre to the Omagh bombing.

If things could get a bit heavy at times, the quartet also knew when to switch gears into big, roof-raising hits.

An Italian fan was hauled on stage to dance with Bono for ‘Mysterious Ways’, while ‘With or Without You’ closed the main set in epic fashion.

It may have been a difficult few days for U2 – for the world – but last night proved you can’t keep a good band down.

Irish Independent

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Anton Savage Show on Today FM

The Miami Showband Massacre 40 years on – Truth, Justice and U2

Stephen Travers and Des McAlea joined Anton for a moving interview

Steven Travers and Des McAlea – survivors of the Miami Showband Massacre in July 1975 – joined Anton for a moving interview, recalling that fateful journey home from a gig, and how Bono and U2 could help their fight for justice – 40 years on.

Des and Stephen were upset recently to hear Bono say the shocking Paris attackers had made a “the first direct attack on music” when terrorists targeted the Eagles of Death Metal gig at The Bataclan. The duo tweeted to say Bono had failed to remember the Miami Showband attack, in which killed three members of the popular group were killed by as many as ten ‘soldiers’. The bands name was included on a screen film shown at recent U2 concerts during the moving ‘Raised by Wolves’ song, and whilst the band are grateful for that, they want U2 (and Bono in particular) to help them in their 40 year fight for truth and justice.

They want Bono to use his influence to get the files released on both the Miami Massacre as well as Dublin Monaghan bombings (it is alleged carried out by one of the same bombers). They said they would be happy to meet Bono and band, maybe even join him and U2 on stage as one the original victims of a terror attack against music 40 years ago.

As a gesture of solidarity, they want the audience at U2’s Dublin gigs on Friday and Saturday to raise three fingers during the gig to remember their fallen band members Fran O’Toole, Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy.

They remembered happy times as one of the biggest bands in Ireland in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, a happy life ‘blind to the border’ playing gigs north and south. And movingly, they spoke about the attack which claimed the lives of their three band members. They vividly recalled the attacks. “The whole world went red” said Stephen, who says 40 years on he can “still feel the grass on the side of my face” from where he lay as his band mates were shot to death in a field beside him. Des McAlea says he can never forget Fran O’Toole (whom Phil Lynott called “the Greatest Soul Singer Ireland ever produced“), guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy.

The men bravely spoke of the investigations that followed the attack, collusion, enquiries, forgiveness, of carrying the burden, visiting one of the killers, memorials, and as well as their hopes to have all the files on the case released,  their hopes to truly make the world a better place.

For more, see the band’s official website and a number of petitions are currently active here, here and here 

The band can also be followed on Twitter.

We had a massive reaction to the interview on the text machine, email and on Twitter, Here was some of it.


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