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"U2's records take a long time to make not because the band members are stuck for ideas but because they never stop talking about them." — Brian Eno

U2 strike emotional chord with Berliners on night of celebration

Irish Times

Nearly 20 years after recording their famous album Achtung Baby here, Bono and the boys from U2 rocked the Brandenburg Gate last night before 10,000 cheering fans.

Drenching the famous monument in emerald green light, the band delivered a rousing "Sunday Bloody Sunday," as a fan's Tricolour fluttered in the night air.

The anthem to the lost lives of 1972 hit an emotional chord with Berliners on a spot where, just two decades ago, a shoot-to-kill policy was in operation.

As the city kicks off five days of celebrations to mark the fall of the wall here in 1989, the former no man's land was transformed into one man's land: that man being Bono.

U2 -- by special request of Berlin's mayor -- took to the stage in the city and launched into "One." On what was once a cold war divide, Bono sang that "only love can heal such a scar."

They marched through "Magnificent," from their new album, before "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was greeted with roaring approval, and ample support from rapper Jay-Z.

"Thanks for sticking with us over the years," said Bono, recalling their Berlin spell in 1990, when they "wrote some tunes, met some beautiful spirits."

After a rocking "Beautiful Day," they vibrated "Vertigo" loud enough around Pariser Platz for even the dancing American embassy staff to hear behind their bombproof glass windows.

The Irish party continued over at the MTV Europe Music Awards where television actor and German pop legend David Hasselhoff revealed he is buying a pad in Ireland: "the Hassle Castle."

Meanwhile, Irish woman Gillian Deegan was chosen from 100 "fanwalkers" who hiked from Hamburg to Berlin to present an award.

Back out with U2, director Wim Wenders was rocking with the crowd, enjoying the music and casting an admiring eye on the light show. "Nice to have the boys at the gate," said the band's many-time collaborator.

After the band wrapped things up with "Surrender" [sic] and a "God bless," the fans streamed home, cold but happy.

"It was a great concert -- they were in great form," said middle-aged fan Arthur Schrödinger. "Bono is ageless, and I find it good too that he's political."

American fan Dahlia was thrilled at the free concert.

"It's good that U2 are doing this for the public," she said. "The MTV awards are just all about VIPs."

As organisers of the gig and the subsequent awards show, MTV erected big screens on Unter den Linden to allow fans without tickets see the concert.

They also slapped their corporate logo on panels of the original Berlin Wall alongside a sign reading "No Graffiti Please."

© Irish Times, 2009.