Kiss me, kill me: Fans and begrudgers talk U2

They're one of the world's biggest bands, but there's also plenty of negativity about Bono & co...

Kiss me, kill me: Fans and begrudgers talk U2

Image: Henry McKean

U2 make their triumphant return to Croke Park this weekend.

Saturday's gig comes as part of their tour for the 30th anniversary of their iconic The Joshua Tree album.

Decades after the album's release, the band remain hugely popular - they have sold out the 80,000 capacity Dublin venue, and there is little doubt that they could have easily sold out another couple of nights.

They will play to more than 2 million fans around the world as part of their ongoing tour, and they are one of the few active music groups legitimately able to make a claim for 'biggest band in the world'.

However, despite the band's enduring success, there is no question that there's plenty of 'begrudgers' when it comes to Ireland's most famous musical export.

Whether it's those who criticise Bono's approach to his charity work, or others who simply do not like the band's music (and even fans are divided on some of their work), U2's popularity is far from universal - especially here in their home country.

Henry McKean spoke to some of the begrudgers and fans to try and figure out the reasons behind some of the hostility.

One man told Henry: "I don't like U2 at all. I just don't like them - never did, and never will, simple as that".

Another suggested: "It's because of their wealth - and Irish people have a problem with people being successful and wealthy."

One woman described Bono as a 'show-off', while another told a joke: "What's the difference between Bono and God? God walks down Grafton Street but doesn't think he owes it."

Superfan Mark Wallace Merriman from Orange County in California, however, argued: "Other people don't like U2 because maybe they're a little more parochial in their thinking, and wished they did more from where they come from.

"[Disliking] the music is understandable, because taste is the enemy of art - as Bono himself has said."

"They're still morally, emotionally the same guys"

Lindsey Holmes from Lindsey Holmes Publicity went to school with the band and still works with them.

She told Henry: "I've known them for a very long time [...] They're still morally, emotionally the same guys. Most of their friends are their friends that they had when they grew up.

"Rather than being proud of people who do well in this country, we seem to like to take pleasure in knocking the stuffing out of them a bit."

However, she did note: "Everybody has different music tastes, so everybody can't love the same music. If they did, sure, there'd only be one band in the world."

Harry Kantas from Athens works in Twitter HQ Dublin. He has lived in Ireland for 10 years, and is certainly one of U2's biggest fans - he has seen them perform 104 times (105 times after this weekend), and has even played with them.

He passionately defended Bono's charity and activism work, arguing: "Why would you begrudge him on that? He could be just sitting on his arse all day and doing nothing - but he chooses to use his celebrity to bring stuff to people's attention - and I think that's admirable."

You can listen back to Henry's full report via the podcast below: