I’ve never not had a great time in Dublin.
Pardon the double negative, but it’s absolutely true. I worry sometimes that it may get tiresome for you the reader, to continually be told what a belting crowd it’s been, but it’s been a tour so absolutely rammed with highlights that it has become unavoidable.
I travel alone from Manchester to Dublin and arrive at the show site quite late in the day. Wandering into the backstage compound, I pass the buses and note that one appears to be entirely dedicated to "Stage Truck". Many of the drives on this leg have been so long that they have required "double drivers" that tag team through the hours. It appears we have an entire tourbus for the "extra" truck drivers. Yet another small indicator that things have grown to a rather huge scale.
It’s an open field site and a little overcast and dull, which doesn’t inspire any great excitement. The realisation that it’s going to be a great night only hits me when White Lies go on stage. Despite the fact that I’m in the management office about a quarter mile from the front row of the audience, the roar is huge and overwhelming.
At this moment it all comes flooding back to me. I’ve been coming to Dublin with bands now for 15 years. I remember having my photo taken on the stage at the Olympia Theatre, looking out into the empty stalls. It seemed so cavernously huge back then. More than that though, every show blew me right away because the audience response was so intense.
It was the first experience I had with crowds that have absolutely no inhibitions when it comes to enjoying themselves. Obviously, it’s evident in other parts of the world that I’ve visited since. South America springs to mind, as do Italy and Glasgow for that matter. I could go on naming nations and cities all night – and doubtless I’d upset plenty of folks by inevitably missing out some of the most passionate.
The point is that I’d forgotten the Dublin vibe.
As Chris introduces the final encore with "We have two more songs for you. We’re going to do Where The Streets Have No Name and With Or Without You," Phil Harvey turns to me and says, "This might just be the best crowd we’ve ever played to.
As I say, that’s a phrase that has been heard on more than one occasion this tour, but only because the reactions have been so astonishing. Not only is Phil not particularly given to grand declarations like this, but he’s also seen a massive number of Coldplay shows. This means he has every chance of being right.
The encores end and I poke my head up from under the stage. I look out over the crowd for one quick moment before we do the runner. They’re bathed in yellow floodlight and from the lip of the stage right to the horizon, there’s folks on each other’s shoulders, arms in the air. Front to back, side to side, every single person in this huge mass of humanity looks like it’s a cup final and a lottery win all rolled into one. It’s an image I expect I’ll carry with me to my grave.
Another image entirely is one from the police escort out of the show. The four bikes that whisk us through the city are pretty much the most keen we’ve ever had. Upon arrival at the airport, the route to the plane is somewhat convoluted and for some reason requires us to double back through the forecourt of a petrol station.
There’s a fella round the back of the petrol station diving behind a skip as the flashing blue lights and blacked out vans roar past him. The fact that he’s in a great hurry to hide himself away looks very suspicious. As we round the corner, leaving him in the rear view mirror, he stands up adjusting his fly and all becomes clear.
The poor fella had nipped round the back for a leak only to be disturbed by a screaming fleet of police bikes and blacked out vans. I expect he’ll be returning home a bit of a mess with a story that the missus won’t ever believe…