U2 Announce First Northern Ireland Shows in 18 Years

Dublin band's much-rumoured live dates confirmed for Belfast's SSE Arena on November 18 and 19

After a week of online speculation Irish rockers U2 have confirmed their first Belfast gigs since their PopMart Tour came to Botanic Gardens in 1997.

The band will play the SSE Arena, formerly the Odyssey, on November 18 and 19 as part of a string of homecoming shows rounding out their sold out iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE European tour. Tickets go on sale this Monday, September 14, from 9am.

It is the first time Bono and co. will perform songs from their most recent album Songs of Innocence live to Irish audiences as well as their first time in the north in 18 years. Before Snow Patrol played Ward Park in 2010 it was the highest attended concert in history in Northern Ireland, with 40,000 ticket holders and thousands more watching from nearby vantage points.

Botanic

Launched in support of their 1997 album Pop, the tour's elaborate stage design memorably featured a 165-foot wide LED screen, a 100-foot-high golden arch and a large mirror-ball lemon, in stark contrast to the modest set-up of previous visits a decade earlier.

Their first album in five years, Songs of Innocence was controversially made available to all iTunes digital customers at no cost, as part of an Apple product launch event in 2014. Unlike 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', closing track 'The Troubles' is claimed by the band to not have been written about the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile the group gave full creative license to Omagh-born filmmaker Aoife McArdle last year to shoot an accompanying short film for single 'Every Breaking Wave' in Belfast's New Lodge area. 

Songs of Innocence charts U2's earliest experiences of growing up in Dublin influenced by '70s rock, punk and early '80s electronica, and gives insight into how and why the members came together.

Following a £3 million revamp the newly-named SSE Arena now boasts 9,000 new seats as well as improved technical specifications which will have been a deciding factor for the band in their venue search.

'Finding venues to take this show is actually quite tricky and we’re grateful to our overworked crew who finally cracked the reconfiguring to fit these venues' said guitarist The Edge.

Tickets for U2's iNNOCENCE + Experience tour go on sale at 9am this Monday, September 14, priced from £30 to £165, available from the SSE Arena box office and online.