Protests disrupt U2 tour
Dubliners angry over the around-the-clock dismantling of U2's monumental concert stage mounted street protests Tuesday, threatening the Irish band's plans for the next stop on their European tour.
DUBLIN - Dubliners angry over the around-the-clock dismantling of U2's monumental concert stage mounted street protests Tuesday, threatening the Irish band's plans for the next stop on their European tour.
Residents around Croke Park stadium said their aim was to embarrass the Dublin City Council and the Gaelic Athletic Association - which authorized two straight nights of noise - not hang up Ireland's most famous musical export.
Several dozen residents near the stadium called off their demonstrations after delaying U2's initial convoy for several hours. More than 50 trucks eventually left with the band's instruments, stage, lighting and sound equipment, and massive banks of television screens, behind schedule for concerts Friday and Saturday in the Swedish city of Goteborg.
U2 officials confirmed that the trucks missed their ferry and were playing catch-up, but expressed optimism that the band's production would be fully assembled on time in Sweden.
"It will be tight," said Craig Evans, director of the U2 world tour, currently midway through its initial 15-city European leg.
U2 tour production director Jake Berry had complained earlier that he and other key logistics officials were caught off-guard when residents began protesting overnight at key road junctions flanking Croke Park, Ireland's largest stadium.
Berry said singer Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. were told of the Dublin disruption about 5 a.m. Tuesday as their private jet landed in Nice, France, where they are staying in between European gigs.
He said the Dublin-born band felt "pure disappointment. It's just really put a damp squib (sponge) on something that was a fantastic experience and fantastic show."
But Croke Park Area Residents' Committee spokesman David Purdue insisted the protesters weren't targeting U2.
"This is primarily to get Dublin City Council and the Gaelic Athletic Association to take notice of us and recognize the damage they're doing to the local community," Purdue said.
The protesters said authorities should never have granted U2 a license to dismantle its stage over a continuous 44-hour period starting at 1 a.m. Tuesday - right after the last of U2's three Dublin concerts concluded before roaring crowds of 80,000.
The protesters called off the disruption after claiming that the stadium's Gaelic Athletic Association owners had privately promised never to authorize overnight construction work again. Gaelic officials issued an apologetic statement with no specific pledges.
The protesters' retreat also followed receipt of a threatening letter from U2's concert promoters, MCD Productions, identifying more than 50 local residents by name and warning they could be sued for any financial losses incurred by the promoters, U2 or others with a stake in one of the world's most lucrative musical ventures.
One protester, Barbara Ward, argued they succeeded in giving their loved ones a decent night's sleep.
The 48-year-old mother of four said if they hadn't blocked U2's truck fleet overnight, the vehicles would have been driving "in and out, one every 3 1/2 minutes, right through narrow roads and both sides of the stadium."
All sides agree it'll be noisy from dusk Tuesday to dawn Wednesday as construction work continues.
U2 workers are still disassembling the "Claw," a 390-ton, four-legged steel monstrosity that holds more than 150 tons of audiovisual equipment above the stage. Croke Park officials have also begun laying new grass turf for Gaelic football playoffs this weekend.
U2 is using three Claws on its tour - while one is in use, the two others are being erected at the next site or being dismantled at the last.