Review: U2 at Twickenham Stadium in London, June 18, 2005*

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ONE love, blood, life
Apr 17, 2002
Just keep me where the light is
By Chris Prince

After following the whole of the first leg with a mixture of intrigue and excitement, before the brief break and the continuation of tour with an initial stint in mainland Europe, it was finally my time to experience the U2 phenomenon for myself.

It was a hot, sticky day in London, the hottest of the year so far I believe, and after spending the morning sightseeing and shopping, we started to make my way to Twickenham Stadium at around 3: 30 pm. One of the few gripes I had about the day was getting to and from the stadium, as for a structure of its size and status; it's very elusive when it comes to trying find its actual location on the outskirts of London. Nevertheless persistence paid off and we arrived just after 4:05 pm to be treated to a sound check of "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" rumbling on inside, the stadium's fans queued patiently in the blistering, relentless heat, and while ultimately I was disappointed that this song never materialised in the night's set list, it was still a pleasure to have heard this rarity being practiced.


After spending a small fortune on tour merchandise (as rock concerts go, prices weren't too expensive, but I had to have everything!) we made our way inside ready for the supports acts of the evening, Doves and Athlete. I had heard great things about Doves, and while some songs didn't seem to suit the stadium rock atmosphere, they did a good job of warming up the crowd, with singer Jimi Goodwin enjoying a "rock star moment" (his words), when he gambolled half-way down the catwalk and into the audience before briskly jogging back up to the main stage, almost like a school kid who had been caught in the act of spray-painting graffiti on the school gates. Athlete however, seemed very lacklustre. The highlight of its set being hit single "Half-Light," and by highlight I mean the song which seemed to get the best response from an audience who seemed rather unimpressed with the band's repetitive sound.


On to U2. With the omission of the first leg's "Everyone" introduction, the band kicked straight into ‘Vertigo’, followed by the recently resurrected "I Will Follow," getting the audience truly pumped. This was followed by "The Cry/ Electric Co.," and while many of the casual fans around me became quieter during this number, it was in my opinion the most rocking song of the night, with Bono adding snippets of "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" and "I Can See for Miles" for good measure. A stripped-down version of "Elevation" slowed down the tempo a little, and prompted the first of the night's many "call and response" sessions between audience and singer. "New Year's Day" followed, with Adam Clayton taking his first stroll of the night out onto the B-stage, as Bono introduced him as the "London Boy." Sections of the stadium almost erupted as "Beautiful Day" kicked in, Bono again adding snippets, this time "Here Comes the Sun" being inserted at the end of the song.

"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was the first surprise entry in the set list, with Bono telling the crowd at the start, "This is a song we haven't played much this tour." The audience seemed to take this song and make it their own, with Bono stopping the band and holding his microphone aloft for the crowd to take the chorus as the song reached its twilight. It seemed the format of the set list was to be similar too the second night in Manchester as "All I Want Is You" received its second playing of the tour, however, a few of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with the song, with a few of the "call and response" moments simply not working this time round.


Bono then introduced the show across the nation as airing of the concert began on BBC Radio, as Edge started to play "City of Blinding Lights," the new single (U2 apparently knows a good marketing opportunity when it sees one) which also saw the video wall, towering up behind the group, starting to flex its visual muscle. The next three songs were also from the "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" album, "Miracle Drug" dedicated to "Doctors, nurses, and scientists…especially nurses," "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own," dedicated to Bono's late father, Bob Hewson, and "Love and Peace or Else" seeing the singer don a headband with the message "Coexist" written across it, while banging the life out of Larry Mullen Jr.’s drum skins. The political theme of the latter song continued with "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which was incredibly well received, and "Bullet the Blue Sky," which contained the line "Get up off your knees" from "Please" and another regular snippet of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." "Running to Stand Still," while an excellent performance, seemed to bore a few of the more casual fans, many missing the "Still running" call and response part of the song, but recovering well enough to join in with the "Hallelujahs" at the end.

The declaration of human rights part of the show was applauded and cheered as it was read out, before Bono made a small speech with the band going straight into "Pride" followed by "Where the Streets have no Name," which sent the audience crazy. The audience received an invitation to join the band in Edinburgh as part of the G8 summit before "One," a song to that all the audience showed their appreciation for by singing every word as loud as they could in unison, in the eerie glow of lit-up phone screens. "Good night, we'll see you in a minute," the band ended the first set with.


What a night, what a show. "Zooropa" may well be all over but the spirit of ZooTV was definitely still alive and kicking thanks to a rapturous encore of the "Achtung, Baby" trio of "Zoo Station," "The Fly" and "Mysterious Ways." With a plethora of references to the '92/'93 tour incorporated into a jaw dropping sequence of images accompanying the songs, it was here where the video wall really came into its own. One lucky audience member even found her way on stage with the band, invited by Bono to film himself and Edge as they performed "Mysterious Ways." The mood mellowed one last time with "Yahweh," the crowd bellowing the chorus in unison under the clear night sky, before atmosphere reached fever pitch with the final "Vertigo" number. Love it or hate it, the second playing of the song seems an excellent closer of the set, leaving the audience in high spirits and the band clearly enjoy playing it.

With the temperature still through the roof as we left the stadium in our droves, I couldn't help but wonder how much better the concert will be when I am in GA for my next U2 show in Cardiff. Bring on the 29th!

Photos courtesy of Chris Prince.
It sounds amazing, I wanted to go so much but that day I was seeing Green Day at the MK Bowl. It was so hot though, I think I got sun-stroke.
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