Opening Act(s): Master Musicians of Joujouka, Metronomy, Two Door Cinema Club, Wu-Tang Clan, B.B. King, Biffy Clyro, Morrissey
Even Better Than The Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways - Independent Women, Until The End Of The World, One, Jerusalem - Where The Streets Have No Name - All You Need Is Love, I Will Follow, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For - Movin’ On Up, Stay (Faraway, So Close!), Beautiful Day - Rain, Elevation, Get On Your Boots, She Loves You - Vertigo - Garageland, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bad - Jerusalem, Pride (In The Name Of Love). Encore(s): With Or Without You - Love Will Tear Us Apart, Yellow -Moment Of Surrender, Pretty Vacant - Out Of Control.
For the first time ever, U2 performs at the Glastonbury Festival in Pilton, Somerset, England, in front of over 135,000 people. “Bad” is played for the second time in 2011 and “Out Of Control” a third time. “Jerusalem”, a song inspired by William Blake’s 1808 poem “And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time”, is sung by Bono in many sections of the show. Song snippets from such bands as Coldplay, The Clash, The Beatles and The Sex Pistols are played throughout the concert. U2 return to the days of 1985’s Live Aid when they play “Sunday Bloody Sunday” before segueing into “Bad” and “Pride”. Earlier in the evening, the original Zoo TV visuals are rendered when the band performs “The Fly” followed by “Mysterious Ways”, “Until The End…” and “One”.
U2 at Glastonbury 2011 - review
4 stars (out of 5)
“Look at you!” cries Bono midway through U2’s opening song, Even Better Than the Real Thing. “A whole city in the rain.” Dreadful weather has a way of focusing the mind. U2’s booking has divided festivalgoers since it was first announced, before Bono’s back injury forced a postponement. But their healthy back catalogue and formidable showmanship seems well-placed to raise sodden spirits.
Working with an additional video screen, they reach back to the early-90s not just with an opening salvo of songs from Achtung Baby but with the frenetic visual overload of the Zoo TV tour. It finds them at their fiercest and most urgent, The Edge wrenching bolts of noise from his guitar during Until the End of the World. One and Where the Streets Have No Name, usually preserved for the finale of their touring set, follow. It’s a lean, combative, frontloaded set calibrated to win the unconverted at their first festival show since the 80s. You can’t persuade everyone of course, but it’s good to see a band this big taking nothing for granted.
Aside from an a cappella verse of Jerusalem, Bono wisely keeps the Avalon blarney to a minimum. “Could be the leylines,” he begins. “Could be the jetlag. But it’s a very special feeling being here.” He has an instinct for the right gesture. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for closes with a refrain from Moving on Up by Primal Scream, who are headlining the Other stage. In a flamboyant coup de theatre (Look! We have friends in space!) he enlists an astronaut to recite lyrics during Beautiful Day from the international space station. Other memorable moments are generated by the crowd. They take a whole verse of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, while a field of flags blowing in the night breeze during Sunday Bloody Sunday intensifies the song’s martial feel.
If there’s a problem, apart from the wretched weather, it’s that the opening sprint is never equalled for energy (and, thanks to the wind, volume), though Beautiful Day, Elevation and Vertigo come close. In the encore, after a glittering With or Without You, the sombre Moment of Surrender feels anticlimactic: a big moment for U2’s fanbase but not well-known to anyone else. But they pull it back with a rampaging version of their punky debut single Out of Control, a reminder of when they were unknowns with everything to prove. Thirty years later, on unfamiliar ground, they reach for that fierce hunger and it’s that sense of urgency - even a hint of nerves - rather than triumphalism that makes this such a charged and memorable set.
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2011
Photos by Shirlaine Forrest, Gigwise.com; Dave Hogan, The Sun