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U2 Tours (formerly part of AtU2): A Comprehensive Guide To U2’s Live Performance History
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by Pete Kirwan

I'd only seen U2 once before, in Birmingham on the Elevation Tour. That was a wicked gig made special by a few key high points- Kite, Stay, an impromptu Party Girl. Tonight, though, i didn't think there were any highlights- instead, we got a spectacular show that never dipped below absolutely stunning, and it blew Elevation out of the water.

Everyone else will probably ignore them, but the support acts were amazing. Idlewild, for anyone who's interested, played the following as far as I remember:

Little Discourage
You Held The World In Your Arms
Welcome Home
Love Steals Us From Loneliness
A Modern Way Of Letting Go
I Understand It
When I Argue I See Shapes
Live In A Hiding Place
El Capitan
American English.

They were on top form, it was just a shame that the ground was still only starting to fill up. Still, Loneliness and American English were phenomenal and even from our seats up in the gods it seemed like the crowd were enjoying it.

Athlete were better received, though as ever they are really bad at judging their own strengths, preferring to play the cute quirky songs rather than the anthems designed to FILL stadiums. Still, they are yet to record a song I don't like and here's their setlist:

Half Light
El Salvador
New Project
Shake Those Windows
You Got The Style
Yesterday Threw Everything At Me

The old stuff went down better, though Wires got a huge singalong which must have been amazing for them! You Got The Style and Yesterday were incredible as well. Still, my wishlist of Athlete tunes is waaay too long- Vehicles and Animals? Dungeness? Beautiful? Chances? Modern Mafia? Street Map? Never mind.....

Anyway, cue roadies removing the huge plastic umbrellas and greenhouse covering the rest of the stage, then an hour and Arcade Fire 'Wake Up' later, and U2 strolled out onto the stage, another gig, another night.....

There wasn't much interaction tonight, I didn't think- though we were incredibly high up so was hard to tell a lot of the time. The music was what we needed though, and the crowd roared along to every single song.

I think Vertigo is an amazing opener and really got the crowd in the mood straight from the start- no surprises, just flat out rock n' roll. Then I Will Follow, er, followed, and it was amazing how easily 25 years of music was suddenly bridged between these two songs. I'd hoped for An Cat Dubh to follow, but Electric Co. was just as cool, and everyone around me knew it which was fantastic! Was nice to hear Send In The Clowns inserted, and i think it was here that Bono also started singing some of the who's I Can See For Miles, was Roger or Pete in the house tonight?!

The 'sexy' version of Elevation was next, which caught the whole crowd off guard, who kept expecting it to kick in. Bono loved it though, the crowd were Woohoo-ing as he conducted us through the first two choruses and verse before finally kicking in. It's a song that in my opinion only works live, but damn, it WORKS!

Memory fails me as to what order the next four songs came in, but i DO remember Bono's first apology of the evening- they hadn't played this song in a while, so sorry if the Edge gets lost! And I Still Haven't Found... began, leading into the best singalong of the night, finishing with us repeating the chorus over and over while Bono bowed... and then straight into All I Want Is You. Bono never even got close to the notes in the final section, but i guess when you've got 80,000 people screaming it, getting them doesn't matter so much ;-) .

Beautiful Day suited the terraces very well, Bono being completely drowned out by the drunk guy behind me. New Year's Day was solid as ever, Edge's solo sounding particularly Pink Floyd-ish for some reason? Bizarre.

I was starting to feel like i'd walked into a Best Of gig rather than the Vertigo tour, but then they finally got into the stuff i'd payed 60 quid for, kicking off with City Of Blinding Lights- where they FINALLY started using that huge screen to spectacular effect. Good performance, followed by an incredible version of Miracle Drug dedicated to all the doctors and nurses, especially nurses, in the audience. There was another apology at the start of this one, where Bono seemed to miss his cue because, he claimed, he was enjoying himself too much!

Sometimes.... was the showstopper it was always born to be, and I don't think i can say anymore about it. It's replaced Stay as my favourite U2 song and was everything I'd hoped for.

Then the Big Political Three. Love And Peace Or Else, with Adam and Larry on toms at the front was sooo good, i finally understand that song now. We did also enjoy Larry's sprint back to the kit for the end of the song while Bono picked up drumsticks and carried on playing the toms. Then, as the rest of the band finished, Bono continued to slam the toms, until Sunday Bloody Sunday kicked in and Bono threw away the sticks in disgust. Sunday was as good as ever, quite liked the Coexist logo, nice idea, and went straight into Bullet The Blue Sky with all the trimmings- Guantanemo Bay sketch, Hands That Built America, Johnny Came Marching Home, check. It's not my favourite song, but at least they're keeping it relevant which is fine with me.

Running To Stand Still was gorgeous, though seemed quite short. Admittedly i probably got distracted by the Declaration of Human Rights towards the end of the song, but it was still beautiful. Then a brief pause while the woman onscreen read out articles 4-6, and Pride kicked in. I was quite impressed at how long they kept the political theme up even beyond Bullet The Blue Sky, as it ran straight through until the end of the main set. Pride was a solid performance, then the flags descended for Where The Streets Have No Name, preceded by a bit of an advert for Live 8 with Bono saying he hoped to see some of us there, and in Edinburgh where they will also be.

One closed the main set in style- and the lighted cellphone thing is a wicked idea, very very pretty. I love One, as did everyone else there by the sounds of things, and was so glad to finish the set on it.

The texting began as the stage darkened, then the 'fruit machine' started up for the encores. Hadn't expected the return of the crying baby, but hey, craziness happens. Bono's silhouette appeared against one of the top screens, very cool effect, and Zoo Station kicked off. To be fair, i think this was probably the weakest point of the gig, the audience didn't seem to get it and Bono's voice was swamped, but it still rocked. The Fly was amazing though, and a nice Zoo TV tribute as the slogans and lights completely overwhelmed the audience, very very cool. To go from that to With Or Without You was a leap that i don't think many bands could have pulled off, but i guess that's part of what makes U2 so good! The girl who came up onstage hogged the spotlight a leetel too much for my liking, especially with the kneeling in front of Bono, but I suppose you've got to enjoy your moment in the spotlight.

The band disappeared again for a few moments, just enough time for some of the texters' names to cross the screen, and then they were back onstage. The encore was very short, i think they'd pushed the curfew with an unusually long main set, so we just got the fantastic acoustic Yahweh (again, the audience didn't seem to get this so much, which was a real shame), followed by Bono shouting "This is an encore! That means play it again! Uno, dos, tres, catorce!" and an even better version of Vertigo than we'd started with, helped along by a very cool light show.

And then, just two words left on the screen.


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