That Was Then

17 Jun 2005
On June 22nd 1992 U2 embarked on one of their most high-profile political demonstrations - recalled on the b-sides of City of Blinding Lights.

Last week the band released their third single from How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, a track that opened the show most nights on the first leg of 'Vertigo '05'. In the UK it went straight in at No.2.

But newer fans may not know the story behind two of the b-side releases on the single, which were recorded at a unique concert in Manchester thirteen years ago.

The 'Stop Sellafield' show at Manchester's G-Mex on June 19th 1992 was conceived as a protest against plans to build a second nuclear power facility on the north west coast of England - putting Ireland as well as England at risk of contamination from a leak.

The original plan had been for U2 to play a concert on the site of Sellafield 2 but this was banned by the High Court. Instead U2 played a protest show for the environmental group Greenpeace at the G-Mex - a night when Kraftwerk and Public Enemy were also on the bill and Lou Reed joined Bono on stage for 'Satellite of Love'.

Next morning the band donned radiation suits, sailed out into the sea and returned carrying drums of mud from Irish beaches to illustrate the pollution from the perimeters of Sellafield 2. 'It's absurd," said Bono, 'That a rock band has to dress up in ridiculous costumes to draw attention to this problem.'

A decade later, the campaign had been taken up by Ali, Bono's wife. 'I^ve always felt strongly opposed to Sellafield. It is 60 miles away from the Irish coast. It is pumping 2 million gallons of radio active liquid waste into the Irish sea every day, making the Irish Sea the most radioactive sea in the world. If an accident happens at the plant, or if there is a terrorist attack, depending on which way the wind blows, Dublin,Dundalk, Drogheda, Belfast, and vast parts of Ireland, would be uninhabitable. Forever.'

Listen to The Fly (Live at 'Stop Sellafield' Concert)
- Windows Media (High / Low)
- Real (High / Low)

Listen to Even Better Than The Real Thing (Live at 'Stop Sellafield' Concert)
- Windows Media (High / Low)
- Real (High / Low)

Learn more about the work of the campaigning environmentalist organisation Greenpeace


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