Only UK performance of 51-date tour which has sold 2.4 million tickets delights fans
U2 turned the clock back to 1987 last Saturday and Sunday at Twickenham and it was brilliant…if deafening. They performed two nights to a packed stadium for which concertgoers had each paid hundreds of pounds.
The 51-date tour has sold 2.4 million tickets, all similarly priced, making it the most successful concert act of 2017.
The theme of the evening was the 1987 breakthrough album which truly established them as a global rock act, The Joshua Tree…the one with their best loved hits.
Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen at times performed like the tightknit garage band they once were and at other times like the biggest stadium rock act in the world…which they are.
Ever on just the right side of earnestness, or even cheesiness, Bono hailed London as “a city of 300 languages” and “truly, the capital of the world”.
He recalled that they had been little more than boys when they first played gigs in the UK and asked the crowd if Irish venues The Railway Tavern and The National were still there anymore.
And he thanked London for providing sanctuary and a home to generations of Irish people…and there were several thousand Irish of all ages in the audience.
Noel Gallagher was the supporting act, interacting with the audience only once or twice (during the Saturday performance) to say things like ‘welcome to the teatime slot’ as he ran through some of his Oasis favourites and several of his popular and more recent High Flying Birds numbers.
But U2 showed their total dominance of stadium rock when Larry Mullen walked out into the centre of the stadium to belt out the drum tattoo of Sunday Bloody Sunday and the fans erupted in pleasure.
There followed ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, ‘New Year’s Day’, ‘Bad’ and ‘Pride (In The Name of Love)’ before they moved onto the big stage to perform a full run-through of both sides of The Joshua Tree in front of a 200’, Ultra High Definition 4K screen with the original images and footage shot by Dutch photographer and filmmaker Anton Corbijn.
Corbijn’s own fortunes have risen in tandem since he did the Joshua Tree album cover art which so many fans consider iconic and which became an intrinsic part of the band’s brand.
In all, U2 played a huge 24-song set affecting a personal intimacy between the band and the audience, thanking them for going out of their way to make it to the stadium.
Before the performance the band had invited London firefighters who had tackled the Grenfell Tower blaze to see their run-through of the show.
He addressed terrorism during ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ as snippets of Dr Martin Luther King’s famous I Have A Dream speech played across the screen and urged Dr King to “keep us faithful in the time of fear, keep us tender in the time of terror”.
During the show Bono paid tribute to Remain campaigner and Labour Party MP Jo Cox who was murdered a year ago dedicating ‘Ultraviolet (Light My Way) to the mother of two who was stabbed to death by a crazed knifeman.
As images of prominent campaigners for women’s equality, past and present, came on screen Bono said: “We usually dedicate this track to the women in our lives but tonight we sing this for Jo Cox for Brendan and her family. Jo Cox you light the way.”
For the encore set the screen was given over, without maudlin sentiment, to documentary images of Syrian refugees on the huge, huge screen allowing the pictures to make the point.
During the evening the band also dedicated ‘One Tree Hill’ to their late roadie Greg Carroll and paid tribute to the late Kirsty MacColl, who had sequenced The Joshua Tree album.
As one of rock’s VIPs Bono gave a big shout out to Bob Geldof in the audience and to Facebook executive Marissa Mayer and to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Melinda Gates.
He closed the evening by letting the audience into a secret that Adam Clayton was to become a dad.
But not before inviting Noel Gallagher on stage to perform ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ which they dedicated to the people of Manchester injured and bereaved by the suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert.
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