U2 fans are expected to begin queueing outside Irish music stores to be the first to get their hands on the band's long-awaited new album.

HMV said it was opening two outlets in Dublin and Galway at midnight because of overwhelming interest in the world launch of No Line On The Horizon.

It is the first studio release from the rockers in almost five years and goes on sale in their native Ireland three days before it hits UK shelves on March 2.

The album will be released in five different formats, including CD, LP vinyl and three limited edition versions which will be accompanied by a companion film Linear.

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "We have had an incredible amount of interest in the new album with a considerable number of pre-orders secured recently."

Fans will be able to pick up the first copies of the recording in HMV shops in Dublin's Grafton Street and Galway as soon as they open at midnight tomorrow (Thursday), he said.

"We advise fans to come down early to be in with a chance to receive a U2 goody bag," he added.

The new recording, their 12th studio album, was originally expected to be released last year but Bono and his bandmates decided to keep working on it.

Sessions began two years ago in Fez, Morocco before moving to the band's own studio in Dublin.

Recording then switched across the Atlantic to New York's Platinum Sound Recording Studios and was finally completed at Olympic Studios in London.