Let me get this confession out of the way first: I'm not the world's biggest U2 fan. Not even close, really. But I am a sucker for spectacle, and have been in love with Dublin since the last time I visited it years ago. So when the opportunity came to see the widely-reputed World's Biggest Band in front of a hometown crowd, I couldn't say no.
In order to be one of the 2000 or so with GA tickets to gain access to the center circle (stage diagram here), we had to line up at 11 am. Actually I guess people who came after us got in there too, so we didn't have to, but we did. And we sat and stood and got rained on and sunburned in the queue with fans from Dublin and all over the world for about 6.5 hours before we were able to actually advance into the stadium and stake claim on our positions. After that it would be about 5 more hours of only standing as Bell X1 (fun fact: Bell X1 contains everyone who was left in Juniper after Damien Rice left the band to go solo), The Script, and eventually U2 took the stage.
I'll leave the setlist commentary to the die-hards, and just go on record as saying that the show was...pretty awesome. It was pretty apparent to me that the band was still working out how it wanted to interact with the moving monstrosity of a stage they're touring with (often the moving bridges that connected the stage to the outer ring would move into position before a song, only to have the band remain firmly fixed on the main stage), but they still nailed it for most of the night, and of course found plenty of time for dogoodery: marching out an army of Amnesty International volunteers in Aung San Suu Kyi masks, and putting Archbishop Desmond Tutu up on the giant screen with a message for the audience.
Final thought: I've known since the last time I visited Dublin how strongly much of the city identifies with U2 and its music (the bus from the airport uses "Beautiful Day" in its intro video, the bar atop the Guinness Store House plays a basically all-U2 mix, and you've got a 90% chance of hearing at least one U2 song if you stay in any pub in Temple Bar for more than a few minutes), but I guess it seems less crazy to me now that I've seen that affection reciprocated. In a sense, the whole concert was a giant love-fest between a band and its hometown. It was amazing in many respects, but I keep coming back to that one as the big takeaway.
Anyway, here are some of the images I brought back with me. There are a bunch more in a Picasa gallery, if you're interested.