Saturday, 25 June 2011

U2 on Fire at Glastonbury

Last night I sat myself down in front of the TV with a bottle of Errazuriz Merlot (delicious!) to watch U2 perform at Glastonbury.  I love Glastonbury, it's different from other festivals and the eclectic mix of performers is always great.  It took U2 30 years to perform there but at last it was on!  It must have been quite nerve-wracking for the band as there was a significant anti-U2 vibe about them performing there.  So when they came onto the pyramid stage I had my fingers crossed for them.  I needn't have worried, from the start they were brilliant, and within a short time had the crowd very much with them.

They started with a medley of Achtung Baby songs, Even Better, (accompanied by a new video by Damian Hurst on the screen behind the band) The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Until the End of the World, One, and I drifted back in time almost 20 years to the mad Zoo days.  Even some of the video on the large screen behind the band was from those days.  They were crazy, but good times and it was a treat to hear those songs again.  The rain was pouring down, you could see the drops on Bono's glasses and at one time as Edge stamped on the stage the water from little puddles on the stage.  But hey, this is Glastonbury and that means rain and mud!

Then, a nice touch, Bono sang Jerusalem acappella, very appropriate as William Blake's words refer to the possibility that Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea visited Glastonbury.  Whether that is true or not, Glastonbury is a special place and some magic was happening there last night.

Jerusalem segued into an uplifting Where the Streets Have No Name.  Then it was I Will Follow after which was I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking for, the crowd singing a verse on it's own, amazing if you think that this is not a U2 audience, something Bono remarked on - "We haven't played to people who are not our audience for a very long time, so it was just overwhelming for our band."

Then came Stay which was wonderful followed by Beautiful Day which had a pre-recorded introduction by astronaut Mark Kelly in the International Space Station.  Then there was a medley of high energy songs, Elevation, Get On Your Boots, Vertigo, Sunday Bloody Sunday.  Suddenly the high energy stopped and those familiar opening notes that always send shivers up my spine rang out - Bad!  It was a huge surprise for me as they haven't done Bad live on the current leg of the 360 Tour.  I have to admit the tears were running down my face during this, it always gets to me, and this version was fabulous, I was in heaven.  Bono added a few lines of Jerusalem to the lyrics:

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

This was followed by Pride, which isn't a favourite but has to be done in a gig like this.  After a short break the band did a encore beginning with With Or Without You, during which Bono took UK and Irish flags and laid them across speakers on the stage.

Moment of Surrender followed, still not one of my faves, and it seemed as if it was all over, then suddenly they launched into Out of Control, another surprise!  Written when they were ordinary kids of 18, and now here they were, world famous 50 somethings, the best band in the world who definitely still have it!  That's pretty amazing.

Though I'm still a fan I've often been critical and cheesed off with U2 over various things in recent years.  But live they are brilliant, never let us down and are simply the best.  And I can't wait until I see them live again myself in Canada very, very soon!

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