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I've started to see this community as a real resource in America. I have described them as 'narrow-minded idealists.' -- Bono, on the U.S. evangelical movement 

For U2, Small Is Beautiful at London Gig

- February 08, 2001

by Stuart Harris

LONDON (Reuters) - Irish rock superstars U2 followed in Madonna's footsteps Wednesday night to prove that small is beautiful.

The band, accustomed to playing to cavernous sports stadiums, took to the stage at a London club to wow 1,800 fans and warm up for their latest world tour. Madonna won an equally enthusiastic reception in November when she played to 3,000 people at London's Brixton Academy.

U2 tickets were only available to winners of radio and Web site competitions or to those ready to pay $1,000 to touts.

Celebrities packed into the London Astoria for U2's most intimate British show in almost two decades.

Mick Jagger, Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, Bob Geldof, Chris Evans and current girlfriend Billie Piper, actor John Hurt and writer Salman Rushdie gave the perennial rockers a rousing reception.

U2 arrived on stage to a huge roar from the crowd. Lead singer Bono was bedecked in black, wore his trademark wraparound sunglasses and wore the rosary given to him by the Pope.

The band clearly relished the unusual setting and their playing reflected the words on a sticker on Bono"s guitar which read "I FEEL GOOD."

Gone were the usual hi-tech lighting effects, video screens and giant props, allowing the music to speak for itself.

The band played 16 songs including five from their latest album "All That You Can"t Leave Behind" with the song "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" dedicated to the author of its lyrics, Salman Rushdie.

They also rolled back the years with a couple of well-loved early songs "I Will Follow" and "11 O'Clock Tick Tock."

The gig was a warm-up for U2's forthcoming "Elevation 2001" world tour which starts in Miami on March 24 and goes on to Europe after the North American dates.

U2 are riding high in the British singles charts with "Stuck in a Moment You Can"t Get Out Of." Keeping them from the top spot are Liverpudlian girl group Atomic Kitten with "Whole Again." The girls have confessed to being big U2 fans and to buying their single.

"They are absolutely amazing. I grew up listening to them -- Bono and the Edge are gods" said Kitten Jenny Frost.

Tuesday, U2 were declared "God-like Geniuses" by the readers of New Musical Express. Later this month they are to be given a lifetime achievement award at the Brits, Britain's answer to the Grammys.

© 2001, Reuters.

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