Live Review: U2 Perform Free Show For Peace

May 20, 1998 12:00 AM ET

The premier Irish rock group U2 crusaded for peace in Northern Ireland last night during a momentous free concert in the capital city of Belfast.

More than 15 years after recording the political anthem "Sunday Bloody Sunday," U2 implored approximately 2,500 young Protestants and Catholics to vote "yes" on the Northern Ireland peace referendum this Friday. Following a set by hometown heroes Ash, U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge played a number of songs -- including the poetically apropos "One" from 1991's Achtung Baby -- before introducing Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and the SDLP leader John Hume in a symbolic reconciliation of political foes.

Citizens of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland will vote this week on the Stormont Peace Accord forged between Irish and British officials last month. If approved by a majority of the public, the "Good Friday" pact could end the rabid attacks between the IRA and British loyalists that have ravaged the country since 1921, and usher in a new era of peace. Recent public opinion polls suggest that support for the agreement is wavering, especially among Protestants.

"The ethos behind this is to demonstrate that the agreement and a "yes" vote is a positive vote for Ireland's young people and for the future," Eamonn McCann of Wonderland Promotions Ltd. told JAMTV on Tuesday.

Bono is a personal friend of Hume, who asked the celebrated Dublin natives to speak out for the cause. Both British and Irish political parties gave away free tickets to the event, which began around 6:30 p.m. local time at Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

The young members of Ash -- who played a full set before joining Bono and The Edge -- were born in Northern Ireland during "The Troubles." They earned notoriety in the U.K. four years ago with the indie hits, "Petrol" and "Girl From Mars," which earned them opening slots for Suede, Dinosaur Jr. and Elastica.

In other U2 news, Bono has recently agreed to appear in Million Dollar Hotel, a movie about a vagabond motel in Los Angeles. Bono conjured up the love story, which will cost $8 million to produce.

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