The first to entertain the Landsdowne Road crowd was one-man-and-his-guitar act Paddy Casey. He was perfect for the mood of the early sit down crowd. His acoustic set, consisting of songs from his recently released "Amends" album and a few covers, was excellent, and hopefully the gig will be a big break for this prodigiously talented young man, who set the audience up well for the uproariously good Divine Comedy
It must have been a big day for Mr. Hannon and band, as they originally started off playing REM covers. Neil told the crowd that he had seen REM in Ireland around ten years ago and, as a result failed his A-Levels, but said it didn't matter because music was the future. They stormed on to the stage with 'Generation Sex' and they kept the tempo up with high quality crowd-pleasers such as 'Everybody Knows That I Love You', 'National Express' and 'Here Comes The Flood'.
Sadly, they left out two of their best-known songs, 'Frog Princess', and, of course, 'My Lovely Horse' (from the "Eurovision" episode of Father Ted). A surprise to the crowd was a powerful cover of Portishead's 'All Mine', which probably bests Neil Hannon's famous collaboration with Ash on 'Oh Yeah'. Sadly, they were on all too briefly and after a mere 30 or so minutes they had to make way for REM's roadies.
REM's arrival was greeted with a huge round of applause, and though their two-hour set denied many a concert-goer a seat on the last bus home, it was none-the-less ecstatically received. REM have one of the best back catalogues in the business, and even a one album fan could recognise nearly all of the songs. Few bands can evoke such a classic concert sound as REM, and even less can evoke different moods with such ease. 'Everybody Hurts' (which was dedicated to the peace process) got the crowd swaying, 'The End of The World' got the crowd jumping, but 'Losing My Religion' was the song that won the loudest cheers of approval. They opened the set with 'I ate the Lotus' from "UP". They couldn't do anything wrong, even when Stipe asked if he could play a brand new song entitled 'That Great Wide Blue', he got a good response.
With favourites like 'Man On The Moon', 'The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite' from "Automatic For The People", 'Crush With Eyeliner', 'Bang and Blame' and 'What's The Frequency Kenneth' from "Monster" and, finally, the old "Document" classic, 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It (and I feel fine)" ending their four-song encore, who could complain?
Seeing Stipe on stage was a sight in it self, his energy was breath-taking. After two hours of singing and dancing he was still leaping up and down in the air right up to the very last note of their very last song. He told a story about the last time he was at Landsdowne Road, two years ago to see U2. He only remembered the ground because of "miniature rainforest" in the urinals. He then dedicated 'Everybody Hurts' to friends of his down from Northern Ireland and to the Peace Process. There was also a great cheer from the crowd when the Tricolor was thrown onto the stage and the crowd sang "Olé, Olé" for around five minutes. It was then draped over the speakers and left until the end.
All in all, the concert was a success, in spite of the organiser's best attempts to get Smashing Pumpkin-esque trouble. On the pitch there was no segregation for the mosh-pit area (four times Michael Stipe asked the crowd to be careful, stating that he didn't "want to loose anyone"). There was no water available on the pitch (except at the very front, and in the uniquely conditioned Landsdowne Road toilet facilities). There was also no water available at the on site bar either which is, as far as I know highly illegal, and very fucking dangerous (needless to say alcohol was freely available at said bar). This is the kind of wanton disregard for the safety of concert-goers that by rights should be punished, but in fact, never is. You'll never see an organiser hospitalised because of dehydration at a concert.
by Seanan Kerr and Diarmuid Ó Loing.