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Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band performing live at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2013. Picture: Denis Scannell
DENIS SCANNELL
Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band performing live at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2013. Picture: Denis Scannell
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Ed Sheeran shows bring back memories of legendary Páirc concerts

ON Friday, pop superstar Ed Sheeran will take to the stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, performing the first live concert at the stadium since its multi-million euro redevelopment.

Backed by Beoga, Anne-Marie and Jamie Lawson, it is the first major music event to take place at the arena since July 2013 when Bruce Springsteen packed out the old arena.

 Michael Jackson performing at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in July 1988. The pop megastar performed two gigs. Picture: Dan Linehan

Michael Jackson performing at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in July 1988. The pop megastar performed two gigs. Picture: Dan Linehan

With the trio of Sheeran gigs marking the start of a new era at the stadium, music fans will be optimistic of seeing more concerts over the coming years, harking back to the long-standing musical tradition at the stadium.

Wishlists are being drawn up, with many keen to see U2, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and other major stars drop by in the coming years, and given the wealth of talent that previously performed in the riverside stadium, it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch.

Concerts have been held in Páirc Uí Chaoimh as far back as the 1970s when oil shocks caused a spike in interest rates leaving the County Board unable to repay a loan on the stadium's building costs.

 Bruce Springsteen on the stage in the Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2013. Picture: Miki Barlok

Bruce Springsteen on the stage in the Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2013. Picture: Miki Barlok

Siamsa Cois Laoi ("Fun by the Lee") was coined as a solution, with a weekend of country, folk and trad music held annually from 1977 to 1987 to generate the required income. GAA purists were slow to support the concerts but mounting debts left few options.

Siamsa Cois Laoi held at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 1984.
Siamsa Cois Laoi held at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 1984.
Glen Campbell (1979 and 1983), Don McLean (1979 and 1984), Joan Baez (1980), Leo Sayer (1984), Loudon Wainwright III (1985), Kris Kristofferson (1985), Status Quo (1987) and the Pogues (1987) just some of those to play as part of the concerts.

1987 also saw U2 close out the European leg of the Joshua Tree tour at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, breaking the mould for pop and rock concerts at the arena for the coming years.

 Bono on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh when U2 performed during their Joshua Tree tour in 1987, on the same weekend of the last Siamsa Cois Laoi concert that featured Status Quo as the lead act.

Bono on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh when U2 performed during their Joshua Tree tour in 1987, on the same weekend of the last Siamsa Cois Laoi concert that featured Status Quo as the lead act.

In 1988, Michael Jackson performed two sold out concerts to a combined audience of more than 100,000 people on the 'Bad' world tour, with the County Board using their share of the gate receipts to buy Páirc Uí Rinn.

Prince performing Páirc Uí Chaoimh in July 1990.
Prince performing Páirc Uí Chaoimh in July 1990.
Prince also performed his first ever Irish concert at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, bringing his 'Nude' tour to Leeside on July 7.

U2 returned in 1993 as part of the Zoo TV tour, while the Féile festival was staged at the Páirc in 1995, bringing a line-up that included Ash, the Stone Roses, Paul Weller and Kylie Minogue.

Britpop superstars Oasis followed in August 1996 with two sold-out shows.

 Liam and Noel Gallagher on stage at the Páirc in August 1996. The brothers played two shows. Picture: Dan Linehan

Liam and Noel Gallagher on stage at the Páirc in August 1996. The brothers played two shows. Picture: Dan Linehan

From there, the stadium went quiet as its outdated facilities were passed over for purpose-built venues and outdoor arenas elsewhere.

But, in July 2013, Aiken Promotions brought Bruce Springsteen to Leeside as part of his Irish summer tour. The sold-out stadium saw Springsteen and the E Street Band perform a marathon three-hour show and, while reports for the music were overwhelmingly positive, the criticism of the facilities was just as audible.

 Ed Sheeran: The singer-songwriter will play three gigs this weekend in Cork. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Ed Sheeran: The singer-songwriter will play three gigs this weekend in Cork. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Attendees at the upcoming Ed Sheeran concerts shouldn't have anything to worry about, though, with temporary lighting added outside the stadium and the enhanced interior facilities, including new bars, toilets and access routes, all shaping up for a better experience.

Prodigy on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 1996. Picture Dan Linehan
Prodigy on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 1996. Picture Dan Linehan
Music fans in Cork will be hoping that this year's events will be more than a one-off, though, with the sell-out shows showing a rampant appetite for live music and major concerts in Cork.