U2, Ireland's most famous band, may be barred from playing two sell-out concerts on home territory because residents living near the proposed venue in Dublin are objecting to the disruption.
The Irish supergroup, whose hits include "New Year's Day", "Where The Streets Have No Name" and "The Fly", are due to appear before 80,000 fans at Dublin's Lansdowne Road stadium next month, but yesterday Ireland's High Court found in favour of the residents who claim that such events are illegal under planning laws.
Mr Justice Declan Costello made an order restraining the Irish Rugby Football Union, which operates the stadium, from allowing the concerts to go ahead. He did, however, grant a stay of the order until tomorrow to allow an appeal to the Supreme Court by the local promoters.
"Our promoters are working to overcome this most recent obstacle," said Paul McGuinness, the band's manager. "Obviously, we are really looking forward to playing at home and we hope we can."
More than pounds 2m worth of tickets have been sold for the concerts on 30 and 31 August. Tickets for the first concert sold out in 40 minutes, making it the fastest-ever ticket sales for a major concert in Ireland. The band, who all come from Dublin and this year celebrate their 21st year in the music business, decided to put on a second concert for their Irish fans. Neither concert is likely to go ahead now unless an alternative venue is found.
Residents claim that preparation for a major concert begins seven to 10 days before the event and the wind down lasts for three to four days afterwards. During that period they allege that they endure increased traffic, sound testing, other noise and disruption.
The judge said the concerts breached planning laws on two counts: the holding of a concert at the sports ground was a change of use which required planning permission and the construction of a stage also required planning permission.
Yesterday's court ruling was criticised by Young Fine Gael, the youth branch of the political party, which said it was "disgusted and disappointed" that the gigs had been opposed. "It is remarkable that Ireland's most famous band are effectively being banned from performing in their own country," said Arthur Lynch, chairman of Young Fine Gael.
The dramatic demand for tickets for the Dublin concerts was a big morale boost for Bono and the band whose tour was not a sell-out in the United States. Paul Wasserman, U2's American publicist, said about 20 per cent of the dates on the North American tour had been "less than overwhelming" and one show in Denver with a capacity of 60,000 had only managed to draw 27,000 people.
The band's popularity remains undiminished in Europe. This summer they are due to play several dates Europe, including Edinburgh at the beginning of September.
The current tour, entitled Popmart and featuring songs from an album called Pop, is U2's most extravagant concert to date. The idea was unveiled in a New York K-Mart store with the words: "We believe in trash. We believe in kitsch." It features the largest video screen in the world, a 100ft yellow arch, a giant lemon and an olive on top of a 100ft cocktail stick.Reuse content