By Chuck Myers
Knight Ridder Newspapers
SLANE, Ireland -For the rock band U2, it was more than
just "A Sort of Homecoming." It was a rousing
welcome normally reserved for returning heroes.
a five-month blockbuster tour in the United States,
Canada and Europe, the Irish rock band returned home
and was greeted by 80,000 ecstatic fans at a concert
Saturday on the grounds of Slane Castle, about 30 miles
north of Dublin. U2 headlined the annual concert. The
show marked their first formal concert in their Irish
homeland in four years. The band made its only other
appearance at Slane 20 years ago -- as a supporting
act for the group Thin Lizzy. U2's two-hour plus performance
capped off a daylong music festival. Each group on the
program, from up-and-coming Irish band Relish to the
Red Hot Chili Peppers, primed the crowd for the show's
The band has been riding high with the success of their
2000 hit album "All That You Can't Leave Behind"
and the enormously popular "Elevation" tour.
But the death of Bono's father, Bob Hewson, earlier
this week cast a shadow over the group. Many wondered
how it would affect Bono's Slane performance.
The answer came quick. As the band members came on stage,
Bono genuflected and crossed himself in tribute to his
late father, who had lost a battle with cancer. He then
charged into the show with a spirited performance of
the band's latest hit, "Elevation." A few
songs into the set Bono thanked God for "taking
him (his father) away from his sick body and giving
him a new one." His voice then cracked slightly
as he introduced the next song, a poignant ballad about
parenthood called "Kite." The crowd responded
with a sea of flickering lighters.
For the occasion, the band played "A Sort of Homecoming,"
recorded at Slane Castle in 1984 for their album "The