Leonard Cohen is playing in Belfast this summer but it is unlikely that I'll get to see him. The cheapest tickets for his concert are apparently around £82. Is he worth it? Yes, very probably from what I have heard from those who saw him in Dublin last year.
The problem is I've blown my concert budget for the year. When my brother-in-law asked if Sinead and I wanted to go with him to see U2 in Croke Park in July we thought why not. It has been a long time since I actually liked them, but you know U2 - Dublin. Its as much about the spectacle as the music and anyway I've great memories of some fantastic performances by the them in Croke Park back in the mid-1980s.
I first saw U2 play in Maysfield Leisure Centre in Belfast in 1982 when they were still relatively unknown. I remember Bono ranting on for ages about a song they had just written and which they were going to play for the first time. It was about the North and the Troubles and despite its title he was adamant that it was not a rebel song and if the audience in Belfast that night didn't like it then they would never play it again... but most definitely "this song is not a rebel song..."
Anyway the Belfast audience gave 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' their seal of approval and it and U2 moved on to bigger venues. Next time I saw them play was in Phoenix Park in Dublin when the hairdos where bigger and the songs were more bombastic. Support that day came from Simple Minds and The Eurythmics. Then came a concert in Croke Park with Squeeze and The Alarm and a little known American band called REM at the bottom of the bill.
A year or so later I saw U2 in Dublin at a concert called Self Aid (must have been around 1986) where a who's who of Irish acts played and acts who were Irish by association - Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison, The Pogues, Clannad, De Dannan, In Tua Nua, Paul Brady, Christy Moore, The Chieftains and Moving Hearts and Elvis Costello... even Chris de Burgh (God help us) was there singing about Patricia stripping and the like. Bob Geldof had just been beatified following Live Aid the previous year and The Boomtown Rats played for the last time that day. The finale, after U2 had left the stage, was former members of Thin Lizzy - Gary Moore, Brian Downey and Scott Gorham - coming on to pay tribute to Phil Lynott who had died earlier that year, with Bono and Geldoff helping out with the vocals.
U2 at that point had become superstars and were on the verge of releasing the The Joshua Tree. The following year I saw them back at Croke Park with Lou Reid and the Pogues warming up. It was more than a decade until I next saw them in Botanic Gardens in Belfast and I'd long stopped buying their albums, but still they put on a great show.
So anyway, when the notion of going to see them in Dublin was mentioned I thought fine, why not for old times sake? What I didn't realise was that my brother-in-law, being much more pragmatic than I am, realised that they only way to secure tickets was to apply for as many options as possible and ofcourse, as luck would have it, secured the most expensive tickets going.
Anyway, 131 euro to go and see a band I used to quite like is the upshot... that is 131 each for me, Sinead and her brother. We are paying - 393 euro.