GFA20: Co Down rocker recalls how he sang for yes

David Trimble and John Hume pictured with Bono at the Concert for Yes in 1998. Picture by Paul Faith
Gareth McKeown

THE Co Down rocker who performed with U2 at a concert after the Good Friday Agreement 20 years ago has recalled the last-minute nature of the now iconic event.

The Concert for Yes took place in May 1998 and is remembered for an image of Bono holding aloft the arms of SDLP leader John Hume and his Ulster Unionist counterpart David Trimble, but for Ash frontman Tim Wheeler it wasn't the halcyon day it appeared.

He told BBC's Sunday News programme about performing some hastily-arranged covers with U2 as well as loaning equipment to one of the biggest bands on the planet for the gig.

"U2 just flew in before the whole thing and they didn't bring any of their gear, they had to use all our gear," he said.

"Everything was last minute.

"I remember being on the tour bus driving there the night before - I think we were put on a mobile phone with Bono, trying to figure out what songs we'd do together and how the show would go."

The free concert, a final push for a yes vote ahead of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement, took place at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast in front of around 2,000 school children and ultimately achieved its aim.

"It was very important for us to be involved. I think U2 felt they needed a Northern Ireland band to make the concert really work - it was great," said Wheeler.

"U2 were a massive, worldwide, legendary band from the south and they needed some youngsters from the north - it was a really good pairing, I think."

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