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'Tis better to be drunk on the spirit; however, a bottle of Jack Daniel's is sometimes handier. ---- Bono

Two Worlds Collided: Sydney, November 22, 2019

U2 Honors the 22nd Anniversary of Michael Hutchence's Passing

Joshua Tree Tour 2019 logo

U2 played the first of two shows in Sydney tonight, smoke from the bush fires palpable in the air. Ebullient fans entered the Sydney Cricket Ground, lining the rail around the Joshua Tree stage and the main stage just in time for a lightning storm. Opening frontman, Noel Gallagher, dropped trademark F-bombs while ribbing fans wearing ponchos and predicting that the rain would stop as soon as U2 came on stage. 

Noel was right. The skies cleared while Larry strode the catwalk during the last few stanzas of The Waterboys’ Whole of the Moon. He slid into his seat behind his drum kit on the tree stage, seamlessly grabbed his drumsticks, and seconds later, Sunday Bloody Sunday ignited the arena.

Later, Bono echoed a line from the 2017 Berlin show—“The rain is going to glue us together for an epic night of rock n’ roll”—and then launched into Bad. Bono honored his late friend Michael Hutchence, noting tonight’s 22nd anniversary of his passing, then riffed lyrics from INXS’s Never Tear Us Apart. Fans lit up the stadium with iPhone flashlights. 

The Edge and our (usually quiet) Larry shared humorous anecdotes about their country-and-western alter egos, The Dalton Brothers. Bono commemorated Adam’s journey into recovery, which began in Australia. All four guys smiled non-stop.

Authentically human moments peeked through the flawless show. During Vertigo, Bono gestured for a fan named Marco dressed as MacPhisto to hop on the tree stage. He did; they danced in tandem until three security guards leapt into action to try to remove Marco, thinking he was an uninvited stage crasher. Bono and his bodyguard Brian Murphy physically intervened and calmed everyone down. Bono segued into INXS’s Devil Inside.

Also, near the end, after an emotional rendition of Every Breaking Wave and a screen montage of Michael Hutchence during Stuck in a Moment, Larry hopped off the drums to join the guys for the final bow, then realized they had one song left to play—One. Flashing a grin, he smoothly zipped back up there.

Overall, another beautiful unifying experience. The band, the fans, the crew, security: one love, we got to share it.

H. Brown (c)@U2