[It was March 2009 and I had just touched-down in UK following a 3 week vacation to India. My coach to Bristol had barely left the Heathrow compounds, when I got a call from Abhinav announcing that the Irish rock-band U2 were coming to town in August !!! I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better news to welcome me back ! U2 was and is one of my favourite bands and I had always wanted to watch them live ! Abhinav agreed to pre-book 4 tickets as soon as they went out on sale….and I could instantly feel some of my jet-lag fading away :)]
Fast-forward 5 months …the date is 22nd August 2009 ! Over 70,000 fans roared in ecstasy as U2 took on the stage at the spectacular Millennium Stadium at Cardiff, Wales !!! It was the last European gig of their 360-degree World tour ….and about 30 metres away from the impressive and blaring stage, stood Anil, Adarsh, Javid and I !!!
“Where the hell was Abhinav ???”, one may be compelled to ask. Unfortunately, the poor chap had been posted back at offshore just a month ago, as his project had come grinding to a close. Nevertheless, we were compelled to go for the concert ‘with or without him’ !
And what a concert it was !!! The music, as expected, was stupendous and the effects mind-blowing ! The stage nick-named ‘The Claw’ reportedly cost 20 million quid to build, and it definitely showed !
The band started out with singles from their new album ‘No line on the horizon’ and went on to play anthem after anthem from their classics – ‘With or without you’, ‘Beautiful day’, ‘One’, ‘Sunday bloody Sunday’, ‘Where the streets have no name’, ‘Vertigo’, ‘City of blinding lights’ ….were all played and the screaming crowds couldn’t get enough ! Being U2, there were important political messages carefully placed in between ….and also a whole song dedicated to Burmese leader Aung Sang Su Kyi.
I had been to concerts in UK before…..9 months ago, I was there in Birmingham to watch Coldplay ! But this was nothing like anything else ! For one thing, the crowd was much much much larger. A stadium full of fans [not just any stadium, but the Millennium Stadium itself] was by no means a joke …..and when all of them sing along in unison, the electric ambiance that it generates simply cannot be described ! And of course, this was U2 !!! These are the guys whom even Coldplay consider to be masters !
My personal favourites were ‘Sunday bloody Sunday’ and ‘Vertigo’ ….and two and half hours later, as we walked out of the stadium, to join the 1000’s of people swarming the streets of Cardiff, we could still hear the chorus being hummed by fans all around !
The next morning we woke up to croaking throats, and after breakfast, Adarsh and I went on to explore Cardiff ! The weather was great, and it was exceptionally pleasant and lively around the bay area. A half-an-hour boat ride took us across to the posh locality of Penarth, where we set out on foot to visit the pebble beach and the pier adjoining it. The last time I had been there was in 2007, about which I had blogged in detail back then. But frankly, nothing much had really changed.
Later in the evening, we walked back into the city centre and headed straight for Cardiff Castle.
However, just like the couple of times before that I had been there, we ended up not going inside the castle, but instead, just shot pictures from outside the massive stone walls ! Like most important English castles, this Welsh castle too had first been built as a strong-hold by the Roman invaders around 2000 years ago, and was later fortified by the Normans.