For the musicians, though, it was all a great triumph. Dubliner Phil Chevron who now plays guitar with the Pogues, reflected on the tremendous advances that Irish music has made in the past 10 years.
"When the Radiators From Space were going, there was no back-up system; there was no proper radio outlet, no rock paper and only a couple of iffy studios. It was really difficult for me then. There was no option for me but to go to England. That doesn't exist anymore.
"If nothing else, today shows what there is here now. The professionalism is here, the groups are here, the music's here. It's just a pity it's not being supported in an archaic education system. Literature and music are things that Irish people are very good at, considering the tiny population.
"And it's something that's only beginning to be recognised by the establishment, as they realise that there's a fledgling industry there. The talent's there, it just needs supporting and I'd like to see a lot of the money that was raised today being used to encourage that."
The Pogues and Elvis Costello both put in fine performances. Backed with the Attractions again, Elvis summed up the goodwill of the evening with an inspired version of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers To Cross." And as he came to the end of "Pump It Up," he cheekily stole into Van Morrison's "Gloria" — only minutes before the man himself was due to go on stage.
Van disappointed everyone when he announced he was to preview new material tonight. "Thanks For Information" was more of what we have come to expect by now: those distinctive brass arrangements and that gruff, rasping voice that wrings out emotions which your Kevin Rowlands and Mike Scotts can only dream about. Van's pioneering days might be over, but he still chugs along admirably.
Billed as "the best live band in the world," U2 have more recently become the most predictable live band in the world. Imagine the surprise, then, on hearing the rockabilly grind of Eddie Cochran's "Something Else." Surprising, yet heartening, too, that they can still break the mould when they want to. More of this, please!
The Bono rhetoric was in full swing again: "This country belongs to you, not to the RTE or Bank of Ireland; if you are paid by the people, then you should look after the people.
"I don't know what it's like to stand in line week after week, or to lose your job after 20 years, or to never work at all. 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'."
Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" was used (once again) to attack the shortcomings of the British Government. This gave way to a very silly "Old Macdonald's Farm" and John Lennon's "Cold Turkey." The closing song was "Bad," introduced as "a song about this city."
That ought to have been it, but there followed a tribute to the late Phil Lynott, with ex-members of Thin Lizzy making a surprise appearance. Gary Moore sang "Don't Believe A World," Bob Geldof came on to sing "The Cowboy Song," then everyone filled the stage for a misty-eyed singalong to "Whiskey In The Jar."
By the end, £500,000 had been raised, and 1,200 jobs were pledged. On that count, it wasn't a great success, and the opponents of Self Aid made a great deal of this the following day. Yet at the after-gig party, there was no room for negative thoughts; everyone enthused about the day's events and relished their new-found feeling of solidarity. "Isn't this a grand day!" an MC had exclaimed earlier in the day. It was, surely.