Opening Act(s): Elbow, The Hours
Breathe, No Line On The Horizon, Get On Your Boots, Magnificent, Beautiful Day - Blackbird, Elevation, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of, Unknown Caller, The Unforgettable Fire, City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (Remix), Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride (In The Name Of Love), MLK, Walk On - You'll Never Walk Alone, Where The Streets Have No Name, One, Mysterious Ways. Encore(s): Ultra Violet (Light My Way), With Or Without You, Moment Of Surrender.
Tonight in London, England at the largest crowd in Wembley Stadium history, U2 perform in front of over 88,000 attendees (previous records indicate that the Foo Fighters had 83,000 fans in attendance). In addition, a slew of celebrities were in attendance including Noel Gallagher of Oasis and Lars Ulrich of Metallica. On an unusual note, Mysterious Ways was performed for the first time ever as a main set closer. This was also the 500th live performance of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.
U2: Wembley Stadium, London
4 stars (out of 5)
by Alexis Petridis
As befits the arrival in town of the world's biggest band, U2's 360 tour fetches up in London amid a flurry of news stories. Tonight's show is reported to be record-breaking: the audience is said to number 88,000 people, the largest crowd ever assembled at Wembley stadium. Elsewhere it is announced that the show's vast claw-like set is be turned into a permanent gig venue when the tour is over, presumably in a country where planning permission for a 164-foot luminescent blue claw that belches out dry ice isn't much of an issue. But most striking of all, the Sun's Bizarre page reported that it had received a hand-written letter from Bono promising that tonight's show would be a success. "I swear by the green green sacred grass of Wembley stadium that the sun will shine out of our collective arses this weekend," he wrote.
It's a long time since U2's frontman had to deliver guarantees regarding their live shows. But the 360 tour began badly: the journalists shipped out to the opening night came back bearing reports of technical hitches and fluffed intros. You could say, as some critics did, that it lent the show a rather charming sense of human frailty, but the kind of person who turns up to see U2 live probably isn't overly concerned with the band's ability to communicate a rather charming sense of human frailty. They want a huge, slick, impressive show.
They don't go home disappointed. They get what they came for, complete with a specially taped video introduction from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Bono certainly doesn't perform like a man who spent yesterday hastily scribbling assurances to the Sun. He performs like a man who has spent the last quarter of a century doing this for a living and knows that it's difficult to be too hokey when you have to reach the peanut gallery: basking in the applause with arms outstretched, appearing in a suit bedecked with red lights, announcing "I always think of Joe Strummer at moments like this" during Sunday Bloody Sunday and "it's summer, you're not on a beach, so you must really want to be here," between songs, as if he'd expected to find Wembley empty except for a handful of curious tourists who had got lost en route to Buckingham Palace.
The set comes toploaded with songs from the recent No Line on the Horizon, which you could argue also shows a certain confident swagger, although given that it went to number one in 30 countries they are hardly clobbering the audience with unknown material. The crowd even go wild for Get on Your Boots, rather than greeting it with the gasp of mortification warranted by Bono singing "hey sexy boots".
And yet, it's obvious why: whatever objections you might raise about U2, you would have a tough time indeed saying that their music isn't fit for purpose when it comes to stirring vast crowds, and a tougher time still remaining unstirred yourself. Indeed, you could argue that songs such as Vertigo or Where the Streets Have No Name only really come into their own accompanied by the weird, disembodied sound of tens of thousands of people bellowing along. Understandably, tens of thousands of people seem perfectly happy to oblige.
© 2009 The Guardian