U2 Belfast: Bono and gang rock SSE Arena with iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE gig
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Irish rockers U2 are playing the first of the band's sold-out gigs at the SSE Arena in Belfast.
It has been over 18-years since the Dublin natives appeared on a stage in the northern city, but tonight they play the first of two consecutive dates in front of more than 11,000 fans in the SSE Airtricity Arena.
The concert marks what was intended to be the final leg of their current ‘Innocence and Experience’ tour, with four more dates scheduled for the 3 Arena in Dublin over the next two weeks.
The dark clouds hanging over the venue, which sits on the banks of the River Lagan, matched the atmosphere that is tinged with sadness, as this show will the first concert Bono, Larry Mullen Jnr, The Edge and Adam Clayton will have played since they cancelled two concerts at the weekend in Paris after the terrorist attacks.
The ‘Beautiful Day’ singers took to the stage shortly after 8pm and it is understood that they will paid tribute to the 129 victims of the French attacks, which Isis have claimed responsibility for.
Read the review: U2 play Belfast Innocence & Experience gig at the SSE Arena
Bono asked Belfast concertgoers whether they wanted "a Europe with its heart open or its borders closed to mercy".
Bono also told fans: "It's great to be back in the heart of Belfast. You are heroes to us. What was happening up here in our teenage years made a great impact ... but what was happening on our streets also got into our heads."
Bass guitarist Adam Clayton wore a Stiff Little Fingers T-shirt in tribute to the Northern Ireland outfit which refused to cancel a concert following the carnage.
Prior to the gig hundreds of fans to participated in the ‘White Out Belfast’ campaign which was launched on social media sites over the weekend.
Danish fan Connie Maria Westergaaid travelled from Copenhagen for the two Belfast concerts and explained the purpose of the ‘White Out’ campaign is to demonstrate peace and solidarity in light of the French attacks, where more than 100 music fans were gunned down at a concert.
“I have been to seven concerts on this tour and nine on the two previous tours. I have stopped counting how many U2 concerts I have been to,” she told Independent.ie.
“Stronger than fear is part of a lyric from Raised By Wolves on this album. It’s part of a campaign or movement called ‘White Out Belfast’, so basically you go to the concert tonight and you wear or bring something white, so when the band walks on stage you basically wave it.
“You want to be able to go to a concert and not be afraid. It’s not just about Paris, it’s everywhere,” she added.
The ‘Innocence and Experience’ tour has been critically acclaimed, and when U2 play their final show it is expected that more than 1.3m fans will have attended 76 shows in 11 countries.
The last time they played in Belfast was in 1997, and their last Dublin show was in Croke Park in 2009.